Simeone demands spirited Atletico showing against 'one of the best teams in the world' Man Utd

By Sports Desk February 22, 2022

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone called for his side to produce a spirited performance against "one of the best teams in the world" Manchester United.

United head into the first leg of their Champions League last-16 clash on Wednesday having lost just one of their 14 Premier League games since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was sacked as manager in November.

By contrast, Simeone's men – who have home advantage this week – have somewhat struggled in their LaLiga title defence this season.

However, Atletico secured a 3-0 victory over Osasuna on Saturday, and Simeone wants to see another battling showing against United, who he believes have transformed since the Ralf Rangnick's appointment in place of Solskjaer on an interim basis.

"We are facing one of the best teams in the world. In the last 14 games, they have only lost one," Simeone told reporters at Tuesday's pre-match news conference. 

"Since the arrival of the new coach, he has given them solidity, teamwork, commitment and shows how Manchester United always was.

"The new coach has made his mark, because you can see it is an intense, dynamic, courageous team with very good individuals. 

"The game will be tough, difficult, like all Champions League games, but we have the hope of being in our stadium and with our supporters."

He added: "The other day there was a great spirit in the team, you could see it. Hopefully it will be there again against Manchester United because then we will be able to compete better."

Atletico have lost each of their past four Champions League games against English sides, double the number of losses they suffered across their first 12 such matches in the competition (W4 D6 L2).

The LaLiga outfit have also won just four of their last 14 in the competition, despite progressing from the group stages in consecutive campaigns, while also losing more of their past four home games (three) than they did in their previous 37 (two) in Europe's premier club tournament.

Simeone's task at the Wanda Metropolitano was also made more difficult on Tuesday, after it was confirmed Atletico would be without their captain Koke for the United clash.

The midfielder suffered a muscle injury in the win over Osasuna, but Simeone insisted it would be an opportunity for others to step up.

"We have [Thomas] Lemar returning after COVID-19, which is important for us," he added. "[Yannick] Carrasco is also suspended...

"But there are team-mates who are very eager, waiting to show their ability."

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