Wednesday, 13 April 2016

Atletico Madrid v Barcelona - Preview

Simeone and Atletico - Getty Images
Fernando Torres is adamant he was wrongly sent off in the Champions League quarter-final against Barcelona. The Atlético Madrid striker is suspended from Wednesday’s second leg following his dismissal in the 35th minute at the Camp Nou for a double booking, shortly after giving his side the lead.

Barcelona took advantage of having an extra man, Luis Suárez’s second-half double setting up a 2-1 win that Atlético must overturn without Torres at the Vicente Calderón.

“I’m convinced the second yellow card was not a card, I felt a mix of impotence and frustration,” Torres told the Spanish radio station Cadena Ser on Tuesday, when describing his foul on the midfielder Sergio Busquets.

“When I see it again I see a slip-up. It’s not a kick nor a late tackle. The only argument is that it was an action that could have been avoided. My ambition to make it 2-0 ended up harming the team.

“I’m certain that with 11 players we would have won. The following days after the game were difficult. It took two days to get over what happened. The moments after the sending off were the worst of my career. I just wanted to be alone.”

Torres has two months left on his loan contract with Atlético, his boyhood club for whom he played between 2001 and 2007 until moving to Liverpool. He later played for Chelsea and Milan before returning to Atlético on loan from Milan in January 2015.

Although he did not give details on where his immediate future lay, the 32-year-old said he wanted to emulate the former Deportivo La Coruña veteran Juan Carlos Valerón and the Roma captain, Francesco Totti, by extending his stay with Atlético. “I would love to be the Valerón or Totti of Atléti but today more than ever is not the time to talk about that,” he said.

Diego Simeone
Being Atlético means being tenacious, competitive, never giving up and overcoming difficulties. We know there are better teams than us. But we know we can compete against Barcelona.

We try to improve what we are doing [against Barça] game after game. We will try to find an angle and see if we can get at them and win.

The excitement and enthusiasm around this match is fantastic, but I don't think the Barcelona players will be surprised by the atmosphere because they are used to it.

Koke is a very important player for us. He has great vision. The team has had a freshness and an energy about it of late, and that's down to having a player like him in midfield.

Luis Enrique
We are treating this like any quarter-final – I don't feel it's the biggest match of our season. We have a small advantage and we will try to win here too to make sure of the result. This team was made for matches like this. Yes, it's always difficult against Atlético, but it's all about doing things well, which is what we try to do every match. We'll need to play really well.

There is always room for improvement. It's not fair to think that victories or defeats are because of two or three players. I'm just as guilty for any defeats because I am the coach. I'm very happy with Arda Turan's performances and Gerard Piqué is fine.

Tomorrow will be difficult like any UEFA Champions League tie, particularly so against Atlético since they know us so well. There is no doubt we are going to compete. We love to see the Vicente Calderón full but if there's any team able to play in this atmosphere it is Barça. I hope we can see a great spectacle.

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