Millennium Post

Atletico look to seal last 16 CL berth

Atletico look to seal last 16 CL berth
Atletico lead group A on nine points with three wins from four matches, while Olympiacos and Italian team Juventus are both on six points, so while a win would assure Atletico’s progress, a defeat would jeopardise their chances, with their final group match away at Italy, reports Xinhua.

Striker Mario Mandzukic is fit to lead the Atletico attack after suffering a back injury during Saturday’s 3-1 win at home against Malaga, but defender Joao Miranda looks as if he could miss out once again as the result of a hamstring injury.

Atletico will be aware that Olympiacos beat them in the opening game of the group and the club has a decidedly Spanish flavour, being coached by former Real Madrid boss Michel Gonzalez and with ex-Atletico keeper, Roberto Jimenez in goal. Roberto returns to the Calderon, where he spent nine years of his career, but struggled to make an impact in the Atletico first team, but he has been in magnificent form for Olympiacos, admitting it will be a special occasion and that he holds Atletico ‘in his heart.’

The home side will look to exploit their usual effectiveness from set pieces, which have brought them more goals than anyone in Spain this season, but coach Diego Simeone will also bank on the creativity of midfielder Koke and winger Arda Turam, who between them have provided the assists for 10 of Atletico’s 19 Spanish league goals this season.

While Atletico are playing for their Champions League future at home, rivals Real Madrid play away to Basel, knowing their place in the last 16 is already assured. And the focus will be on their star striker Cristiano Ronaldo who has the chance to become the continental tournament’s all-time top scorer. At the moment, Ronaldo is one goal behind Barcelona’s Lionel Messi (who has the chance to add to his tally Tuesday in Nicosia) and former Real Madrid legend, Raul Gonzalez.

Carlo Ancelotti will rotate his squad for the game, but should be wary of a Basel side who will also reach the knockout stages with a win.
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