PSV midfielder Jorrit Hendrix expressed the importance of making the most of home advantage as they prepare for the Champions League last-16 first leg tie against “fighting machine” Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.
Eredivisie champions PSV finished runners-up to Wolfsburg in a competitive group ahead of Manchester United and CSKA Moscow to reach the knockout stages and are eyeing a first quarter-final appearance since 2007.
Doing so will be no easy feat as they face an Atleti side that won La Liga as recently as the 2013-14 season, the same year they reached the Champions League final against city rivals Real Madrid.
Hendrix is aware of the task PSV face and acknowledged the Liga side head into the tie as favourites.
“The fans give us a bit more energy and a boost. It’s just an inferno when we play at home, how much the fans get behind us, and how much they sing and scream for us,” Hendrix told reporters ahead of the clash at Philips Stadion.
“We’re certainly looking forward to measuring ourselves against the absolute top sides in Europe. And Atletico Madrid are just a very clever team, they’re a fighting machine which can also play very good football.
“They’ve reached the Champions League final recently, so they are absolutely the favourites, but who knows what we can do at home in Eindhoven.”
PSV have every reason to be confident having won all three of their Champions League home games this season, scoring two goals in each game.
They will have to make do without the services of skipper Luuk de Jong due to suspension, but Andres Guardado and Maxime Lestienne should feature after shaking off respective hamstring and calf injuries.
Atleti, who are second in La Liga, are equally confident ahead of their trip to Netherlands.
Diego Simeone’s men won their group to reach the knockout stages and defender Jose Maria Gimenez is optimistic about their chances of winning silverware.
“I am not worried whether the first leg is at home or the second leg. Home advantage doesn’t have as much of an influence as it had in the past,” he said.
“It’s true that the fans are there, but players at this level don’t think too much about the fans – they’re focussing fully on the football and what they need to do.
“Atletico compete for everything. We all play every match as if it is our last, whether it’s a friendly match, the Spanish Cup, the Champions League or the domestic league.
“And if you face every match trying to win, then you can achieve important things.”
Atleti and PSV have met before in the Champions League, with the Madrid side winning both games in the group stages back in 2008-09.
Simeone is without long-term injury concern Tiago (leg), while Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (ankle) and Thomas Partey (hamstring) are also unavailable.
Key Opta stats:
– PSV had not reached the knockout stages of the Champions League since 2006-07.
– Atletico Madrid have made it to the knockout stages of the Champions League for the third consecutive season, a first in their history.
– PSV fielded the youngest squad in this season’s group stages with an average age of 24 years and one month (as of the final matchday).
– Atletico Madrid have kept 11 clean sheets in their last 15 Champions League games.
– PSV’s Maxime Lestienne has been directly involved in 50 per cent of his team’s goals in the Champions League this season, scoring twice and delivering two assists.
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