Champions League

Atletico star doubtful for Juve tie

2014-10-01 12:58
Gabi (Getty Images)
Gabi (Getty Images)

Madrid - Atletico Madrid could be without captain Gabi for Wednesday's Champions League Group A match at home to Juventus as they look to bounce back from defeat in their opening game, coach Diego Simeone said on Tuesday.

The influential midfielder, who typically plays in a central holding role for the Spanish champions, sustained an ankle injury in Saturday's 4-0 La Liga win over Sevilla.

"We will wait until tomorrow's training session" before making a decision, Simeone told a news conference previewing the clash at the Calderon.

"If he is able to play, he will," said the Argentine, adding that Mario Suarez, Saul Niguez and Koke were candidates to replace Gabi if he was unable to feature.

Atletico, losing finalists to Real Madrid last term, badly need a win against the Italian champions after they were beaten 3-2 at Greek side Olympiakos Piraeus in their opening Group A game, while Juve won 2-0 at home to Malmo.

Simeone had to watch the Olympiakos game from the stands as he was serving an eight-match touchline ban but he was back pitchside for the Sevilla match and will be prowling his technical area again on Wednesday.

Atletico defender Diego Godin said the players had missed the charismatic former Argentina captain's presence.

"You notice when Simeone is there because there are things that you can't see from the stands," the Uruguay international told Tuesday's news conference. "He communicates a great deal to us during matches."

Juve coach Massimiliano Allegri, who took over from Antonio Conte at the end of last season, told a later news conference his side were expecting a battle as Atletico were the mirror image of their combative coach.

Since taking over at the end of 2011, Simeone has instilled the same kind of do-or-die commitment in his charges that he displayed as a key player in Atletico's La Liga and King's Cup double in 1996.

"Atletico reflects the character of their coach," Allegri told reporters. "You see them play and you see the same characteristics Simeone had.

"They play for each other, they are capable of fighting for the whole match with a physical game that does not allow you to play or even think.

"It is the coach's achievement that he has managed to convey his ideas. The proof of that is that they are coming into this season as La Liga champions and runners-up in the Champions League."

Simeone also spent eight seasons playing in Serie A, when he had stints at Pisa, Inter Milan and Lazio, and he praised Juve for another solid start to the domestic season.

The Turin-based club top the Italian standings with five wins in five matches and have yet to concede a goal.

"It is very difficult to find any weak spots in this Juventus where you can try to cause them damage," Simeone said.

"They have a lot of power in attack and some very quick players in defence. We will have to play at an extremely high level."

Atletico's thumping win against Sevilla on Saturday suggested they may be starting to put a stumbling start to the season behind them.

They compiled an impressive record at home in last term's Champions League when they won five and drew one of their six matches at the Calderon.

They have won 17 of their last 19 European games there and their only defeat was a 2-0 reverse to Rubin Kazan in the last 32 of the Europa League in February 2013.

Juve are depleted for the trip to the Spanish capital.

Playmaker Andrea Pirlo and his Italy teammate Andrea Barzagli, a defender, have yet to play this season due to hip and Achilles injuries respectively and were not included in the squad for Wednesday's game.

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