Diego Simeone and Diego Godin outlined the importance of a big performance when they meet the Bianconeri in Wednesday evening’s Champions League Group A clash at the Vicente Calderon.
Los Rojiblancos, who began their 2014/15 European campaign with a 3-2 defeat to Olympiacos in Piraeus, go into the game on the back of an impressive 4-0 victory over Sevilla in La Liga at the weekend.
But with the Bianconeri already off the mark in Europe thanks to a 2-0 home victory against Malmo in September, Simeone knows that his side will be playing catch-up even before kick-off tomorrow evening.
Speaking at the Vicente Calderon earlier today, the 44-year-old coach began: “Juventus have always been a competitive side. It’s difficult to try and pick out any weaknesses in their game: they’re quick in defence and have plenty of quality. We need to put in a very good shift.”
With a titanic tussle between two domestic champions expected on Wednesday, the former Catania boss had plenty of good words to say regarding his Italian counterparts: “We’ll face Juve by showing them the respect they deserve.
“I admire the work they’ve conducted over the past few years, you can see how much effort they’ve put in behind-the-scenes. I think highly of them.
“I don’t think they’ll try and play on the counter attack. [Carlos] Tevez and [Fernando] Llorente press well but they base their game on the support from the midfield.”
With six goals in his last five outings, the Argentine coach picked out fellow countryman Tevez as the man his side would have to watch out for in tomorrow’s game: “We know that he’s an incredible footballer, in particular his movement between the lines. He’s very difficult to handle when involved in attacks.
“We can’t afford him too much time to weigh up his options and it’s important we cut off the supply line before the ball can reach him.”
After a summer in which Atletico saw key men like Adrian, Diego Costa and David Villa leave for pastures new, Simeone replaced the losses with some exciting attacking talent but refused to reveal the combination he would go with on Wednesday.
“Every game is different. Raul Garcia, Jimenez, Griezmann, Cerci could all play. We have plenty of options that allow us to be flexible in attack.”
Alongside Simeone at the press conference was centre back Godin and the Uruguayan echoed his manager’s sentiments by highlighting the magnitude of tomorrow evening’s fixture.
He said: “We’ll approach tomorrow as if it’s a final. We’re used to playing cup finals every weekend, and we’ll look at it as a crunch match given that we need some points on the board. At home and cheered on by our fans, we’ll give our all to get the win.
“As ever, we’ll work together as Atletico do - as a team. From Mandzukic spearheading our attack back to us in defence, we’re all in this together.”
The 28-year-old, who was the last player to score past Gigi Buffon when he headed the winner to send Italy crashing out of the 2014 World Cup, concluded proceedings by analysing the task at hand.
“Juventus are seasoned winners and have a strong squad. It’s a great side which has had a spectacular start to the season. They have so many good players at their disposal and a formidable attack and defence united by the midfield.
“We need to be stern at the back to contain their attacks whilst going forward we must create something special in order to beat Buffon.”