Diego Simeone is expecting Astana to present his Atletico Madrid side with a stern test in the Champions League on Wednesday.
The Kazakhs may have claimed just a single point from their two games in Group C so far but they have impressed against Benfica and Galatasaray.
Atletico are overwhelming favourites to register their second win in three games at the Vicente Calderon but Simeone is anticipating a difficult evening.
“We have seen their Champions League games and qualifiers and I was impressed,” he said. “They were very competitive against Benfica and Galatasaray and I was surprised at their determination to play the game the right way. They have good individual players and a very compact team.
“But we need to win and we need to play well. We will go with the players who we think will give us the best performance.”
Atletico have made a solid start to the season – they lie fourth in La Liga, two points behind the leaders – but have still come in for criticism.
Simeone accepts that comes with the territory and is hoping it will benefit him and his team in the long term.
“I like criticism, I think it will help us grow,” he added. “I would not like Atletico, after all we’ve achieved over the past few years, to not have the requirement to improve.”
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