Atletico must not relax against Real Madrid, insists manager Diego Simeone
Reigning La Liga champion Atletico Madrid's coach Diego Simeone has told his players to be humble as they prepare for their vital Kings Cup second leg tie against crosstown rivals Real Madrid Thursday.
Madrid, Jan 14 (IANS) Reigning La Liga champion Atletico Madrid's coach Diego Simeone has told his players to be humble as they prepare for their vital Kings Cup second leg tie against crosstown rivals Real Madrid Thursday.
Goals from Raul Garcia and Jose Gimenez last week gave Atletico a 2-0 win over their neighbours in their home ground - the Vicente Calderon Stadium, reports Xinhua.
But Simeone knows that his side must survive a tough 90 minutes away in a packed Santiago Bernabeu Stadium Thursday.
Atletico have enjoyed the advantage in head-to-head meetings this season, winning in the Bernabeu in the La Liga and also defeating them in the Spanish Supercup, but that was early in the season before Real Madrid embarked on their impressive run of 22 consecutive wins.
That run was halted at the start of the month by defeats in Valencia and also in the Calderon, but Real Madrid got back to winning ways, crushing Espanyol 3-0 Sunday.
"We have to remember we are not as good as they are and if we relax, they can put four goals past us," commented Simeone Wednesday.
Real Madrid will go into the game led by FIFA Golden Ball winner, Cristiano Ronaldo, who only played for 30 minutes in the 0-2 first leg defeat. Ronaldo will be partnered upfront by Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema.
Bale has been the subject of criticism by the Madrid fans over the past week for being selfish and trying to score himself when Ronaldo was supposedly in a better position and would need a strong show to please the dissatisfied fans. Defender Sergio Ramos was expected be back after his back injury, while keeper Kaylor Navas would man the goal.
Atletico would also make changes to the side which lost 1-3 against FC Barcelona Sunday with striker Fernando Torres likely to get the nod alongside Antoine Griezmann and the pace of both could be a key factor in the game.
Simeone's men was expected to employ a typical cautious approach, frustrate their rivals and look to use their effective counter-attacking game.