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Monday 18 December 2017

Atletico eye turnaround against Leverkusen

‘Diego Simeone winning La Liga with Atletico Madrid is the finest managerial feat in contemporary football’
‘Diego Simeone winning La Liga with Atletico Madrid is the finest managerial feat in contemporary football’

Atletico Madrid will need to put an end to a recent goal drought if they are to have any chance of overturning a 1-0 deficit in tonight's Champions League last 16, 2nd leg at home to Bayer Leverkusen.

Atletico, last season's beaten finalists, have only scored once in their last four outings in all competitions and slipped nine points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona after Saturday's 0-0 stalemate at Espanyol.

Their chances of beating Espanyol were hampered by the dismissal of centre back Miranda shortly before halftime, Atletico's third red card in their last five matches, which prompted coach Diego Simeone to replace forward Fernando Torres with defender Jose Gimenez.

Forwards Mario Mandzukic, Antoine Griezmann and Torres have been off colour and Atletico have failed to score in three consecutive away games in La Liga for the first time since Simeone took over in 2011.

Leverkusen, by contrast, have rattled in 11 goals without reply in winning their last five games in all competitions, including Friday's 4-0 drubbing of VfB Stuttgart.

Atletico midfielder Tiago, who is suspended after his red card in the first leg along with centre back Diego Godin, said he was sure the goals would start to flow again for the Spanish champions.

"The team looked strong even when we were playing with 10," the Portuguese said. "We had clear chances and it's true that we didn't put them away but I see a team that is sure of itself."

Atletico Madrid v Bayer Leverkusen

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