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Feb, 21, 2013

Simeone: Falcao can revive Europa hopes

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone says a recharged Radamel Falcao can help his side overturn the 2-0 deficit in Thursday's Europa League last-32 second leg against Rubin Kazan in Moscow.

Falcao, 27, was sidelined for two weeks in January after suffering a hamstring injury, but he has scored in both La Liga games since returning. The Colombian also provoked the foul which lead to Rubin captain Roman Sharonov being sent off in the first leg at the Estadio Vicente Calderon last week.

Simeone said the hitman was looking forward to the challenge of helping his side turn the tie around and avoid exiting the competition he has won in the last two seasons - with Atletico in 2011/12 and Porto in 2010/11.

"Falcao is very motivated to play," Simeone said. "He scored in his last game and also at Rayo. He caused the red card against Rubin and also hit the crossbar. I hope he has a good game."

Atletico need to score at least twice in Moscow after Simeone's own call to send keeper Sergio Asenjo up for an injury time corner at 1-0 down late in the first leg backfired as Rubin's Basque midfielder Pablo Orbaiz ran clear to give the Russian side a two-goal advantage.

But Simeone believes Atletico's under-strength squad for the return game still contains enough fire-power to progress to the last-16.

"Raul Garcia, Cebolla Rodriguez, Adrian, and Falcao are all attacking players," he said. "We will give ourselves a chance. [Rubin] are in a good position in the tie, but we are looking forward to the game with hope."

With Atletico still challenging in La Liga and the Copa del Rey, six first teamers have not travelled to Russia this week - Felipe Luiz, Juanfran, Diego Godin, Koke, Arda Turan and Gabi. The former Argentina midfielder defended that decision, saying it was a coach's job to balance his resources as best he could.

"I am in a position where I have take decisions," Simeone said. "We always aim to be competitive. And we will be."

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