Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone warned on Monday that there was more to Juventus than striker Cristiano Ronaldo as the Spanish side look to “seize their opportunity” in Turin and maintain their push for a first Champions League title.
Simeone’s side take a 2-0 lead into the second leg of their last 16 clash with Juve at the Allianz Stadium on Tuesday, and are clear favourites to make the quarter-finals at the expense of a team who signed Ronaldo from Real Madrid last summer with the goal of winning the Champions League for the first time since 1996.
“You can’t just talk about Ronaldo, Juventus are a great team with top players who are used to fighting important battles and are very strong in defence,” said Simeone, who insisted there were no favourites despite his team’s clear advantage.
“These are two different matches, the first leg and second leg. We’ll have to seize all the opportunities and do our best, we’ll have less space than in the first leg.
“These are two strong teams, one will go through and the other won’t. It’s hard to talk about there being favourites.”
Atletico have injury worries but Simeone said central defender Diego Godin was fit to play.
“Godin is fine, he’ll train today and I expect him to play tomorrow. I’ll make do with what I have at my disposal,” he said.
Reigning European champions Real Madrid have already crashed out of the competition, with Zinedine Zidane returning as coach of the stumbling Spanish giants.
But Simeone refused to comment on the Frenchman’s return to the Santiago Bernabeu just over nine months after he resigned.
“With all the respect I have for him I don’t think its right to talk about Zidane before a match between Atletico and Juventus,” said the former Argentina midfielder, who played for Juve’s hated rivals Inter Milan during his six-year spell as a player in Italy.
Midfielder Koke warned they were ready for a “battle” with Juventus, who are dominant in Italy but have struggled to turn domestic success into European glory.
“Anything could happen in the Champions League, a lot will depend on how we start the game,” the Spain international said.
“They will certainly attack in every possible way, we’re ready to do battle.
“We know that we are facing a great team. We played very well at the Wanda Metropolitano and come here convinced we can put in a similar performance, but have to give our all.”AFP