By Paul Giblin
MADRID, March 11 (Xinhua) — Atletico Madrid face 90 vital minutes when they play the away leg of their Champions League last-16 tie away to Italian champions Juventus on Tuesday night.
Atletico defend a 2-0 first leg lead in the Allianz Stadium and will place their faith in their impressive defensive record to keep Cristiano Ronaldo and company at bay.
Simeone’s side have kept five clean sheets in their last five games in all competitions, although Real Madrid did score three goals past them in early February, which will give Juventus hope.
The fact that Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium is the venue for this season’s final is a huge incentive for Diego Simeone’s side, as is the fact that Real Madrid, who beat them in the 2014 and 2016 finals, are already out of the competition after suffering a 4-1 humiliation at home to Ajax last week.
Simeone will be able to sit on the Atletico dugout (or more likely pace the technical area) after only being handed a fine for an obscene gesture after Jose Gimenez netted Atletico’s second goal in the first leg three weeks ago, and his presence will be important on the sidelines.
Midfielder Thomas Partey and striker Diego Costa both will miss out through suspension, while Diego Godin has been included in the squad after missing the weekend win at home to Leganes with a minor thigh injury after suffering a knock in Friday’s training session.
Lucas Hernandez and Felipe Luis both miss out through injury and that will mean Juanfran Torres moves across to play at left back, despite being naturally right footed.
The game will see Alvaro Morata return to the club where he spent two seasons and won two Serie A titles and he will probably partner with Antoine Griezmann in attack. The Frenchman will have to be careful he doesn’t pick up a booking which would see him suspended for the quarterfinals, but first of all Atletico have to ensure they make it through to the last eight.