Atletico Madrid vs Lokomotiv Moscow: Simeone’s European plans beginMarch 8, 2018
Diego Simeone’s plans to win the Europa League begin on Thursday evening as his side host Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow.
The two teams meet in the first leg of their last 16 fixture, and both will be looking to gain advantage at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Lokomotiv Moscow sit seven points clear in their domestic league, having just returned following the winter break in Russia.
Meanwhile, Atletico are second and eight points behind league leaders Barcelona, who they lost 1-0 to at the weekend.
The two sides have met just once before, back in October 2007 when the game ended 3-3 in the UEFA Cup. In that fixture, Sergio Aguero opened the scoring, before Diniyar Bilyaletdinov levelled heading into the half time break.
Diego Forlan restored Atleti’s lead, but two goals from Peter Odemwingie gave the Russian side the lead, cancelled out by a late Aguero strike.
The key battle on the night will no doubt be Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann against bustling centre-back partnership, Solomon Kvirkvelia & Nemanja Pejčinović.
Griezmann and Costa have linked up to hand Simeone a superb partnership since the turn of the year and the latters arrival from Chelsea.
The former has netted 20 goals in 34 games this season, meanwhile, Costa has scored five goals in 10 games for Atlético, making their battle against Kvirkvelia and Pejčinović, who have helped the Russians have the second best defensive record in the league this season so far.
Diego Simeone will be without Stefan Savic for Thursday’s game, but Juanfran and Angel Correa are expected to return to the starting eleven.
The visitors are sweating on the fitness of Jefferson Farfan, but coach Yuri Semin has a fully fit squad other than the Peruvian’s troubles.
Predicted Atlético Madrid lineup: Oblak; Juanfran, Giménez, Godín, Luis; Saúl, Thomas, Koke, Correa; Griezmann, Costa.
Predicted Lokomotiv Moscow lineup: Guilherme; Ignatyev, Kvirkvelia, Pejcinovic, Rybus; Kolomeytsev, Denisov; Miranchuk, Miranchuk, Fernandes; Ari.