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Atletico Madrid Close to Elimination in Champions League

A year after reaching the Champions League final, Atletico Madrid is dropping down the standings in Spain and facing elimination from Europe.

Published: 16th March 2015 09:49 PM  |   Last Updated: 16th March 2015 09:49 PM   |  A+A-

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By AP

MADRID — A year after reaching the Champions League final, Atletico Madrid is dropping down the standings in Spain and facing elimination from Europe.

Atletico needs to overturn a one-goal deficit against Bayer Leverkusen in the second leg on Tuesday to reach the quarterfinals.

"We have to keep going, roll up our sleeves, prepare Tuesday's match and work," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "That is the only way we know to improve."

Here are some things to know about Tuesday's match:

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STRUGGLING ATLETICO

Atletico, the defending champion in the Spanish league, surrendered third place in the standings after draws against Valencia and Espanyol.

Atletico played much of the match against Espanyol with 10 men after defender Miranda was sent off in the first half for knocking Abraham Gonzalez out with an elbow to the head.

Simeone credited Espanyol goalkeeper Kiko Casilla for keeping his team from victory.

"We did a fantastic job and with 10 men we could have won the match, but Casilla performed brilliantly," Simeone said.

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ON A ROLL

Leverkusen warmed up for Tuesday's visit to the Vicente Calderon Stadium with a 4-0 rout of Stuttgart in the Bundesliga on Friday.

It was the team's fifth consecutive victory without conceding goal - a run that started with the 1-0 win over Atletico in the first leg.

"I think that (win over Stuttgart) gives us the bit of confidence we need to fly to Madrid, where a much harder task awaits us," Leverkusen general manager Michael Schade said.

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GOOD HOME RECORD

Atletico has overturned first-leg deficits 10 times in 19 tries, and has a good home record in European competitions.

Also, Atletico has won 20 of its last 22 European matches at the Vicente Calderon, with the only loss being a 2-0 setback against Rubin Kazan in the Europa League in February 2013.

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TEAM STRENGTHS

Simeone will be without Uruguay fullback Diego Godin and Portugal midfielder Thiago Mendes, who are both suspended.

Also, captain Gabriel "Gabi" Fernandez and Argentina attacking defender Cristian Ansaldi are a booking short of suspension in the competition.

Leverkusen, which has not conceded a goal in 480 minutes, is at full strength now that Turkey defender Omer Toprak has returned from injury.



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