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Atletico Madrid returns to Calderon ahead of Champions League match

Coach Diego Simeone took his players to practice at the team's old stadium, where it thrived for so long in the European competition.

Published: 31st October 2017 10:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 31st October 2017 10:37 AM   |  A+A-

Atletico Madrid's Angel Correa, left, with Qarabag's Rashad Sadygov during the Champions League, group C, soccer match between Qarabag FK and Atletico Madrid at the Baku Oliympiy stadium. | AP

By Associated Press

MADRID: Atletico Madrid has gone back to the Vicente Calderon for some inspiration.

On the eve of a decisive Champions League match against Qarabag on Tuesday, coach Diego Simeone took his players to practice at the team's old stadium, where it thrived for so long in the European competition.

"We could choose where to practice and we felt that the ideal place was the Vicente Calderon," Simeone said on Monday.

Atletico's last match at the Calderon was more than five months ago. The venue will eventually be demolished, but it remains available for the club.

The match will be at the team's new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, where the first Champions League match was a last-minute loss to Chelsea. It was held by Villarreal to 1-1 at the venue in a Spanish league match last weekend.

Atletico needs all the motivation it can get to try to turn around its recent fortunes; only one win in its last six matches.

Anything but a victory against Qarabag will leave the club in difficult position to advance from Group C. It trails Roma by three points and leader Chelsea by five points with three matches remaining. It drew with Qarabag 0-0 in Azerbaijan in its last match.

"I have faith in my players," Simeone said. "I'm calm, because if we keep competing like we have been competing ... the situation will improve and better things will come."

It's been an unusual situation for Atletico, which cruised through the group stage in the last four Champions Leagues, always advancing as the group winner.

It is yet to win in the competition this time, and only three straight victories will secure the club a spot in the next round without depending on other results.

Atletico made it to the Champions League final in 2014 and 2016, and was a semifinalist last season and a quarterfinalist in 2015.

On Tuesday, Simeone will be without midfielders Koke and Yannick Carrasco because of injuries.

Diego Costa, who transferred from Chelsea but won't be able to play until next year, practiced with the group at the Calderon.

Qarabag will be eliminated if it loses to Atletico and Roma defeats Chelsea in Italy.

Coach Gurban Gurbanov will be without leading scorer Dino Ndlovu, who was sent off against Atletico.

"We need to dream. We need to believe," Gurbanov said. "We'll need to come out with more motivation than the last meeting if we're to get anything from the game tomorrow."



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