Atletico Madrid will aim to reach the Europa League final on Thursday night as they welcome Arsenal to the Wanda Metropolitano for their semi-final second leg with the match delicately poised at 1-1.
Wanda Metropolitano / 20:05 GMT / 3rd May 2018
Los Colchoneros grabbed a crucial away goal late on at the Emirates last Thursday through Antoine Griezmann to give them the edge ahead of the return game.
Not only are they favourites for the second leg but also for the tournament as a whole and Arsenal know they face a tough test if they are to take on Salzburg or Marseille in the final, against an Atleti side who have kept 11 clean sheets in a row at home.
Atletico were reduced to ten men early on in London but despite that, Arsenal couldn’t take advantage, missing a host of opportunities and they could live to regret those misses unless they produce a perfect performance in Madrid.
“We are not thinking about Wenger’s last season at Arsenal, only about what we need. We need to see a full stadium, the excitement of our players, the energy in the team, that’s what matters to us.
“They (Arsenal) have great players between the lines like (Mesut) Ozil. They have a lot of speed in the final third. On their most important days they always manage to play better. To get here you have to be a good team and Arsenal are.”
“The way to behave is clear. We know we need to score. We have a clear demand in our heads and a clear approach, we need to be positive.
“The only thing we don’t know is if Atletico Madrid will do the same or if they will do the opposite and have a more cautious approach and try to get at us on the break. That is what we will have to deal with in this game.”
Diego Costa returned to the Atleti squad for the first leg although he didn’t make it off the bench but he started Sunday’s win at Alaves and is expected to begin against Arsenal.
Filipe Luis has also returned earlier than expected after he broke his leg however the left back isn’t going to start but Simeone says he is fit to play if required from the bench.
Juanfran remains out through injury while fellow right back Sime Vrsaljko is suspended after his early red card last week meaning Thomas Partey is likely to slot in to the full back position.
Simeone himself will watch from the stands after he was sent off last week with his number two German Burgos taking charge of the touchline in Madrid.
As for Arsenal, Henrikh Mkhitaryan has travelled with the squad to Madrid despite picking up a knock in Sunday’s defeat at Manchester United.
David Ospina is likely to retain his place in goal while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang is ineligible.
Predicted Starting XI’s
Atletico Madrid (4-4-2): Oblak; Thomas, Godin, Gimenez, Lucas; Vitolo, Gabi, Saul, Koke; Griezmann, Costa
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Ospina; Bellerin, Mustafi, Koscielny, Monreal; Ramsey, Xhaka; Ozil, Wilshere, Mkhitaryan; Lacazette
Antoine Griezmann’s away goal has given Atletico the edge and with their terrific home form, they should have no trouble in dispatching the Londoners and reach the final in Lyon later this month.
Atletico Madrid 2-0 Arsenal (Agg 3-1)