Atletico Madrid and Benfica will seek to steal a march on their Group C rivals when they meet at the Vicente Calderon in the Champions League on Wednesday.
While Atletico returned from their trip to Istanbul on matchday one with a 2-0 win over Galatasaray, Benfica saw off newcomers Astana by the same scoreline thanks to second-half goals from Nicolas Gaitan and Kostas Mitroglou.
A win for either side would send them three points clear at the summit, with Diego Simeone’s Atleti hoping their impressive home form can get them back to winning ways.
Simeone’s men were frustrated at the weekend with a narrow defeat to Villarreal with the Argentinian continuing to search for his best attacking line-up.
Jackson Martinez and Luciano Vietto failed to make the most of their starts in Istanbul but Simeone’s men will be confident of making it 22 wins from 25 European matches at the Calderon, even without midfielder Koke (hamstring).
“We lost three points that were important for us,” explained Atleti’s Jesus Gamez ahead of back-to-back clashes with Benfica and rivals Real Madrid.
“We knew that they were a difficult rival and that the match was going to be decided in the details. We fought all that we could, but we have not had the fluidity and the luck that we have in other matches.
“Now, we have to keep working. We are prepared for [Benfica and Real Madrid].
“We know that things have not gone as we wanted, but we have time to recover and face those two games that are very important.”
Benfica have had a mixed start to Rui Vitoria’s time in charge, winning five of eight matches but losing to Porto in the Primeira Liga and Sporting Lisbon in the Supertaca Candido de Oliveira.
Saturday’s 3-0 win over Pacos de Ferreira will have boosted confidence, especially for Jonas – who has seven goals in eight club appearances this term – and 18-year-old Goncalo Guedes.
Following his first senior goal, Guedes told Benfica’s official website: “I’m very proud and very happy but the most important is that the team came out victorious and played well.
“We do not think about other teams, only about us, about our work and an obligation to improve every day.”
Winger Raul Jimenez could push for a start against his former club while Julio Cesar (knee) and Ljubomir Fejsa (foot) are back available after injuries.
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