Feb 27, 2015

    Atletico 'have good chance' despite loss, player woes


    DIEGO Simeone insists that Atletico Madrid can turn things around in the second leg of their Champions League last-16 clash in Spain, after suffering a shock 1-0 defeat at Bayer Leverkusen.

    The Germans have one foot in the quarter-finals for the first time since reaching the 2002 Champions League final, after Hakan Calhanoglu's superb second-half goal gave them a slender advantage.

    Atletico finished with 10 men at Leverkusen's BayArena on Wednesday.

    Defensive midfielder Tiago was sent off for the final quarter of an hour for a second booking, while centre-back Diego Godin is also suspended for the return leg after a second-half yellow card.

    Atletico coach Simeone also has injury worries, having been forced into two changes before the break when both right winger Saul Niguez and right-back Guilherme Siqueira came off injured.

    "Leverkusen could have decided the match if they had scored again, so we can live with the situation and we still have a good chance at home," said Simeone.

    "We have to be positive in the return leg, we had our chances, but it wasn't our night. They had us under a lot of pressure and made things hard for us.

    "We didn't combine well, Leverkusen won more than their share of possession and we couldn't get our game going.

    "Diego and Tiago are suspended for the return leg and we have a lot of injuries, but we still have a lot of hope."

    Having been humiliated 4-0 at home by Paris Saint Germain last season at the same stage, Leverkusen produced a spirited performance.

    Their potent pressing game nullified the threat of Atletico striker Mario Mandzukic and attacking midfielder Antoine Griezmann, who have scored 37 goals between them this season, while replacement Fernando Torres failed to make an impact.

    But manager Roger Schmidt admits his side still face an uphill task at Atletico's Vicente Calderon Stadium for the return leg on March 17.

    "Nothing has been decided, but I think it was important to have not conceded a goal and we managed to subdue an attack which includes Mandzukic, Griezmann and Torres," said Schmidt, who is in his first season in charge.

    "The door is still open for Atletico, but we have shown we are also good for a goal or two."