(Reuters) - Atletico Madrid must see out their Champions League last 16 tie against Bayer Leverkusen without Kevin Gameiro, their standout player from the 4-2 win in the first leg, although they welcome back fellow striker Fernando Torres from a head injury.
Frenchman Gameiro scored and had an assist in the impressive victory in Germany but stomach pains meant he was left out of the squad for Wednesday’s second leg, where Atletico are aiming to reach the quarter-finals for a fourth year in a row.
Torres, who also got on the scoresheet in Leverkusen, returns to the squad for the first time since suffering head trauma against Deportivo La Coruna on March 2, although captain Gabi and defender Filipe Luis are suspended.
Leverkusen are in a process of transition after Roger Schmidt was sacked on March 5 following an embarrassing 6-2 thrashing at Borussia Dortmund and his successor Tayfun Korkut said the odds were stacked against his side progressing.
“We know we’re not favourites to go through but we’ll try to come back against a great Atletico side who have a lot of experience at this level. I have confidence in my players,” Korkut told a news conference.
“We know what we need and we know it’s hard. They’re opponents who know how to suffer and get results. We need to look for chances but we have to remember we’ll have 90 minutes and want to get into a situation where we’re still in the game.”
Atletico defender Diego Godin warned his side against complacency and said Paris St Germain’s 6-1 thrashing at Barcelona to exit the tournament after a 4-0 first leg win should be a reminder against taking anything for granted.
“Barcelona’s comeback was a brilliant example of how beautiful football can be, but it can happen to anyone. We need to go out wanting to win, not thinking about what has happened in the past,” Godin said.
“We’re going into the game wanting to win as we always do. We’re giving it the utmost importance and we’re not thinking about the first leg. We want to win. It will be tough, they’re a good side.”
Atletico coach Diego Simeone added: ”Comebacks can always happen, not just because of what happened in Barcelona.
“It will be a tough game and I‘m expecting a similar game to the first leg in which they can create chances. We want to play our game and we are expecting a fight.”
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris