Fernando Torres says earning six points from Atletico Madrid’s two meetings against Astana are vital if his team are to meet their target of finishing first in Group C of the Champions League.
Diego Simeone’s side face the champions of Kazakhstan on Wednesday after winning against Galatasaray and losing to Benfica in their opening two matches.
Torres admitted the 2-1 loss to Benfica at Estadio Vicente Calderon in their last Champions League outing was an unwelcome surprise and increases the importance of getting two consecutive wins against unfancied Astana, who have one point from their first two games.
“We knew it was very important to win at Galatasaray ahead of the home match against Benfica,” the 31-year-old told Uefa. “We won in Turkey, but it was not our plan to lose here at home against Benfica.
“So we need the points even more in the upcoming matches but we are confident that we will make it into the next round, which is our short-term objective.
“We want to finish first in our group because you have more advantages, or let’s say fewer disadvantages, in the next round. We are at that point now to know that we need six points in our next two matches.
“That is clear and then we will play again against Benfica and Galatasaray to determine first spot. On paper we are the favourites [against Astana], but not really knowing them can be a real danger.
“In such matches we have to focus on ourselves, play our game, keep the concentration that you need in Champions League matches, approaching it with the determination to win.”
Torres is hoping to reach the milestone of 100 Atletico Madrid goals in the game after failing to do so in his side’s vital 2-0 La Liga win over Real Sociedad last time out, a result which snapped a three-game winless run in all competitions.
Astana come into the match in mixed form. They have won their last two matches by the odd goal, but had gone the previous five games in all competitions without recording a win.
Atletico have reached the final and quarter-final respectively in the last two editions of Europe’s elite club competition and the defeat to Benfica was their first at home in the competition since Simeone took charge.
They have kept nine clean sheets in their last 11 games at their own ground, while Astana have only scored once in their last five away ties in continental competition.