Diego Simeone wants his Atletico Madrid side to avoid the problems that plagued their UEFA Champions League campaign last season by getting off to a winning start against Galatasaray on Tuesday.
Atleti were defeated 3-2 at Olympiacos in their opening match of the 2014-15 edition of the tournament, immediately putting themselves on the back foot.
Along with the Turkish champions, appearing at this stage for the fourth consecutive year, Atletico have been drawn in Group C with Portuguese giants Benfica and Astana of Kazakhstan, making their debut in the competition proper.
Simeone is encouraging his team do their utmost to avoid complacency and ensure that last season’s quarter-finalists – where they were beaten by city rivals Real – do not fail to pick up points in their first group-stage fixture or the second consecutive season.
“Once the competition starts, it’s never as you imagined,” Simeone told UEFA.com. “We start away from home which isn’t a good thing and demands a lot of focus.
“Last year we were in what many considered a favourable group, but we found it very hard to get through because we lost our first match away from home and then we had to win many matches on the bounce to recover and end up finishing top.
“Let’s hope we’ve learned from that experience so we can make a strong start in Turkey.
“Then it’s Benfica at home. In theory they are our strongest opponents and will be battling to qualify with us. Our first two fixtures therefore invite a cautious approach.
“But as we’ve always done here, we’ll just focus on the first game.”
The Argentine coach may take optimism from the fact that Galatasaray failed to win any of their Champions League home matches last term and are on a winless run of eight matches in Europe, while Atleti have only been defeated once in six trips to Turkey.
Simeone only has Filipe Luis missing from his squad, with the left-back not travelling with the group and remaining in Madrid to train following their 2-1 La Liga defeat to Barcelona at the weekend.
Luis’ place in the starting line-up will likely be taken by Guilherme Siqueira, though Jesus Gamez could also be in contention.
Galatasaray lost Felipe Melo and Alex Telles to Inter on the final day of the transfer window and could hand a debut to Kevin Grosskreutz following his transfer from Borussia Dortmund.
The Turkish side have struggled in the early stages of the Super Lig and a 1-1 draw with bottom side Mersin IY on Saturday means they have five points from the opening four games.
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