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Astana v Atletico Madrid: Simeone´s leaders seek to extend advantage

Top meets bottom in Group C of the Champions League on Tuesday when Atletico Madrid seek to do the double over hosts Astana in Kazakhstan.

Diego Simeone’s side ran out 4-0 winners a fortnight ago at the Vicente Calderon, where strikes from Saul, Jackson Martinez, Oliver Torres and a Denys Dedechko own-goal sent Atleti top of the group, level on points with Benfica.

Astana have picked up one point from three games in their maiden group stage campaign and Tuesday’s visitors will be heavy favourites to extend their unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions.

Luciano Vietto could feature despite battling appendicitis of late – the forward having missed Friday’s 1-1 draw with Deportivo La Coruna at the Riazor that saw Lucas Perez equalise late on.

“It’s true that the team did not stop doing the things it did in the first half, which it did very well, and that is obviously the path we should follow,” Simeone said of the stalemate.

“To continue with this [approach] gives us chances to score and to attack far away from our goal. We have to keep in mind the first half and continue improving.

“I’m leaving with a good feeling about the team, we had a very good first half but in the second half we were too [cautious].”

While Atleti were denied maximum points at the weekend, Astana extended their winning run in the Kazakhstan Premier League to five matches with victory against Irtysh on Saturday.

Stanimir Stoilov’s men remain in the hunt for a domestic league and cup double but will need to cope without the suspended Patrick Twumasi as they attempt to keep alive their slim hopes of overhauling Galatasaray for third spot.

Despite a resounding defeat in Madrid and their difficult group campaign, Stoilov said there will be no change in approach for the visit of the 10-time Spanish champions.

“No, we only have a plan A,” explained the former Bulgaria coach, who also has fitness concerns over the likes of Tanat Nuserbayev and Roger Canas.

“We know that Atletico are strong, but we will play to our maximum. Our plan is to play football. I have already mentioned the Champions League, the league and the cup but my players are ready physically.

“We will be ready mentally as well – we will fight to the end on all three fronts.”

Sun 1 Nov, 2015
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