Friday, September 18, 2020

Atletico cannot fixate on altered Champions League format – Gimenez

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 Jul 2020

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Jose Maria Gimenez says Atletico Madrid cannot use the altered Champions League format and conditions as an excuse when they face RB Leipzig in the quarter-finals next month.

The coronavirus pandemic caused UEFA to postpone the latter stages of its Champions League and Europa League competitions in March, with plans for their conclusions not announced until three months later once the timelines of the major domestic leagues allowed for clarity.

UEFA announced significant alterations to the two competitions, with both set to conclude as localised mini-tournaments comprising of one-off matches from the quarter-finals onwards.

While the Europa League will be hosted across four German cities, the Champions League’s final stages head to Lisbon, where matches will be split between Sporting CP’s Jose Alvalade stadium and the Estadio da Luz, the home of Benfica.

Atletico will face Leipzig – conquerors o
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f Tottenham in March – at the Jose Alvalade on August 13 and will have to do the business on the day, knowing they cannot rely on turning things around in a second leg.

“We have to compete, regardless of the format or location, knowing that we want to win it,” Gimenez told Atletico’s website. “We’ll do everything we can to do so.

“We have returned [to training after LaLiga’s conclusion] just like we left: thinking that, in a few days, we had to return to prepare in the best possible way for what is ahead. We’re very excited about what awaits.

“The game against Leipzig will be very hard. The teams that make it to the quarter-finals are very tough, but we also show who we are when we compete.

“We know Leipzig are very attack-minded, with their full-backs high up the pitch. We have to play with our usual intensity and be focused, all of us, that way we’ll do well.”

The victor between Atletico and Leipzig will face either Paris Saint-Germain or Atalanta in the semi-finals.

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