Atletico Madrid must be intense vs. Barcelona in Copa - Diego Simeone
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone says his team will not be throwing caution to the wind in Tuesday's Copa del Rey semifinal second leg at Barcelona.
Atletico go to the Camp Nou on Tuesday looking to overturn a 2-1 deficit from last week's first leg, boosted by a second-half performance in which they dominated and had chances to equalise or win the game, but knowing they must score at least twice if they are to progress to the final.
The Argentine told the pregame news conference that it was risky to leave too many spaces for Barca to counter into, although his team would look to play with intensity and bring the game to their opponents.
"Many things will be said, but we are playing against a team very strong at home, for sure the best in the world," Simeone said. "I have never liked adventures, I prefer realities. They are ready to be pressed, and can counter-attack very well. We need to score more goals than them, above a 2-1. We must play with the same intensity we have had at our best times this season, and feel well about ourselves as a team."
Simeone declined to say whether Fernando Torres, who scored his first La Liga goals since September in Saturday's 2-0 win over Leganes, would stay in the XI for Tuesday's game.
"We have not yet trained today for the game," he said. "Tomorrow we will decide the team which starts."
Definitely out of the match is suspended Atletico captain Gabi, but Simeone said he was boosted to have midfielder Thomas Partey back from the African Nations Cup, where he played a part as Ghana finished fourth.
"[Gabi] is very good at pressing up top, above all," Simeone said. "He is the heart of the team, I always say that. We hope that with him absent, we can replace him with the players available. Thomas has had a very good African Cup of Nations, and is a very good option to have back in the squad."
Injured centre-back Jose Maria Gimenez was not yet ready to return, Simeone said.
"Jose is much better, but has not been given the medical all-clear yet, even though he trained very well," he said. "For Sunday we hope he is available."
Simeone did not comment on the case of young Atletico defender Lucas Hernandez, with reports claiming that prosecutors have called for a seven-month prison sentence for the France underage international in an alleged domestic violence case.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan