Simeone backs under-fire Atletico to handle Champions League pressure

By Sports Desk October 25, 2022

Diego Simeone has backed Atletico Madrid to thrive under pressure in Wednesday's crucial Champions League meeting with Bayer Leverkusen.

Atletico have reached at least the last 16 in each of their previous four Champions League campaigns, but that run could be halted when they welcome Xabi Alonso's side to the Civitas Metropolitano.

Having failed to score in their last three Champions League games, Atletico will be eliminated from the competition if they fail to win and Porto beat Group B leaders Club Brugge.

However, Simeone has no concerns about his players' ability to handle the occasion.

"They are used to it, they know the demands we have," Simeone said at Tuesday's pre-match news conference.

"They are no different from the ones we always have in LaLiga, the cup or the competition that we have in front of us. 

"We need to win. All that pressure will be generated in the best way to hurt the rival. I feel that the team is growing, and it's a pleasure; hopefully it can be seen tomorrow."

Atletico have never failed to score in four consecutive Champions League games under Simeone, only doing so under Abel Resino between March and October 2009.

Meanwhile, Wednesday's match features the two sides who have underperformed their expected goals (xG) totals by the widest in the Champions League this season. Atletico have scored twice from chances amounting to 6.3 xG, while Leverkusen have netted the same number from 6.7 xG.

Simeone's team have faced heavy criticism for their attacking failings this season, but winger Yannick Carrasco expects them to come good. 

"It's true that there are games that don't go the way we want, but we have a good team, we follow the coach's orders 100 per cent, and we work hard," Carrasco said.

"I think it's normal for the fans, as we have a good squad and a good team, to expect us to win every game, but it's not like that in football. Surely tomorrow is a final for all of us. It's very important."

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