‘I don’t think it will be just Ronaldo against Atletico’ – Simeone wary of Juve’s collective threat
The Argentine boss has warned his players that the Bianconeri are much more than a one-man team heading into a crucial European fixture Diego Simeone has labelled Cristiano Ronaldo as “an amazing player” but warned his Atletico Madrid squad that Juventus also boast plenty of quality as a collective.
Former Real Madrid forward Ronaldo has scored 25 goals against Atletico in all competitions, including a hat-trick when the sides met at the last-16 stage in the 2018-19 season.
The Portugal international drew a blank in the reverse fixture two months ago, though, and has struggled for fitness in recent weeks, making him a doubt for the midweek clash. Editors’ Picks Seven goals in nine games: Chelsea flop Morata is flying again Guardiola’s staying but Man City fans shouldn’t expect him to sign a new contract From Madrid’s new hero to out in the cold – what has happened to Vinicius? Solskjaer’s clueless set-up costs Man Utd – Tactical lessons from the Premier League weekend
Simeone acknowledges the unique talent Ronaldo possesses but is also wary of Juve’s overall strength as a unit.
“He always played really well against us. He is the number one, an amazing player,” Simeone said at Monday’s pre-match news conference.
“He always knows how to create problems for his opponents. But I don’t think it will be just Ronaldo against Atletico Madrid.
“We are here looking forward to playing in this amazing stadium. And we want to play a great game”
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) November 25, 2019 Juventus are already assured of a place in the knockout stages, while Atletico can join them in the last 16 should they pick up all three points in Turin.
However, Atleti have won just one of their last five matches in all competitions and Simeone is expecting another tough match against the Serie A leaders.
“It will be a great game against a very strong and demanding team,” he said.
“We have a way of working, which is thinking about tomorrow’s game. There are a lot of results that can generate satisfaction or not. Then we will look at the match that remains.”
Joao Felix is part of Atletico’s squad after returning from a month-long absence with a 15-minute appearance from the bench in Saturday’s 1-1 LaLiga draw with Granada.
The Spanish club’s record signing has only scored three goals in 12 competitive appearances since joining, but Simeone talked up forward’s importance to the side.
“He has been with us for a little while, he was injured a month ago and we couldn’t count on him,” Simeone told the media.
“We need him because he is different, with characteristics that we don’t have on the field. With his humility, work and desire to improve from the first day, he will continue growing because he has talent and a lot it.”Article continues below
Atletico trail Juventus by three points but midfielder Koke, who played in the 2-2 draw between the teams in Madrid, has challenged his side to finish top of Group D.
“We want to play well at this stadium,” he said. “We want to qualify and finish top of the group, if possible.
“It’s up to us. We’ll be up against one of the competition’s best teams, so we’ll need to be calm and play well to earn the three points.”