Champions League: Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid wary of Qarabag FK threat

Diego Simeone says his past experience of facing UEFA Champions League minnows means Atletico Madrid will know to expect a tough test against Qarabag FK in Azerbaijan

football Updated: Oct 18, 2017 10:53 IST
OmniSport, Baku
UEFA Champions League,Champions League,Diego Simeone
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone shares a light moment with his players during a training session a day before their UEFA Champions League match against Qarabag at the Olympic Stadium in Baku, Azerbaijan, on Tuesday.(REUTERS)

Atletico Madrid have collected only a single point from their opening two Group C games of the UEFA Champions League -- having been held to a stalemate at Roma and lost to Chelsea -- and Diego Simeone’s men must now defeat Qarabag FK in Azerbaijan to ensure they remain on track for qualification.

But the Spanish side have dropped points in similar games before -- drawing 0-0 against Astana in 2015 -- and their coach is wary of another upset as he acknowledges the importance of this clash.

“I believe in my team and believe that we can win,” he told a pre-match news conference. “I think we are on the right track.

“We should have won the match with Roma, but dropped points. Also we should not have lost to Chelsea.

“But we will continue in the same spirit and there will be more successes. As for how to achieve it, it’s important for me to earn three points [on Wednesday] and I’ll make any necessary changes in order to do that.

“Even though the opponent may seem weak, we have dropped points against teams like Astana.

“In addition, Qarabag had a good second half against Chelsea, and Roma struggled to win in Baku, so it will not be easy for us.”

Saul Niguez - a scorer in Saturday’s LaLiga draw with Barcelona - is hoping Atleti can grab an early goal and recover from a poor start to their European campaign.

“We have ourselves to blame for having just one point from two matches in the Champions League,” the Spain international added. “We must overcome this problem ourselves.

“We will try to relieve ourselves of stress by scoring an early goal. We have to start strongly and have a great start to the match.”

First Published: Oct 18, 2017 10:53 IST