Aguirre calls for Atletico to play like 'warriors'
Coach Javier Aguirre wants to see 18 'warriors' representing Atletico Madrid tonight as the Spanish giants look to turn around their UEFA Cup tie against Bolton.
El-Hadji Diouf's second-half goal during last week's first leg at the Reebok Stadium has given Bolton the upper hand in this last-32 tie, but with Atletico boasting home advantage for the return encounter there is still all to play for.
With his side having recently been knocked out of the Copa del Rey and local rivals Real Madrid a massive 15 points clear of fourth-placed Atletico in the Primera Liga, Aguirre knows the UEFA Cup represents the Rojiblancos' last realistic chance of silverware this season.
As such, the Mexican coach is calling on his stuttering side to show what they are made of at the Vicente Calderon.
'We must score a goal and be intelligent. It is fundamental to know how to handle the game and to be brave,' Aguirre said. 'For Thursday's game there are going to be 18 warriors. You can make mistakes because that is normal, but there is no need to have any doubts or fears.
'We have 90 minutes to win a game and get through to the following round. We need patience, intelligence and to play good football.'
Atletico may still be in the top four of La Liga but they have lost five of their last nine competitive matches, including last week's first-leg defeat to Bolton and Sunday's 2-1 home loss to Athletic Bilbao.
In a bid to spark a change ahead of the encounter with Bolton, Aguirre has made some alterations to the team's schedule over the last few days, which have seen the players train in the evening and behind closed doors.
'We have done something different for the team to keep them fresh ahead of such an important game as Thursday's,' Aguirre explained.
'We must show that we have high hopes in this competition. It has taken a lot of work to get here and we do not want it to end so soon.'
Regarding opponents Bolton, Aguirre added: 'I think they will play with more players behind the ball, that is what we are expecting, and more so if we bear in mind the goal in their favour.
'(But) we have to worry about our play and take care of the small details.'
Aguirre has named an 18-man squad for the match, with defender Ze Castro available again after injury and reserve-team players Alvaro Dominguez and Alex Quillo involved once more.
Former Liverpool forward Luis Garcia is also available again after sitting out the first-leg defeat to Bolton through suspension.
However, Aguirre has a number of absentees to cope with, with Raul Garcia suspended and injury ruling out goalkeeper Leo Franco, defensive duo Georgios Seitaridis and Juan Valera, plus midfielder Thiago Motta and winger Simao Sabrosa.
Also missing is influential striker Sergio Aguero after the teenager was slapped with a two-match ban by UEFA for his sending-off in the first match against Bolton for spitting.
Atletico had appealed against the red card, believing Aguero was spitting at the floor and not in the direction of an opponent, but the 19-year-old Argentinian was handed a suspension yesterday.
Aguirre hopes his side last long enough in Europe for the talented youngster to represent Atletico again this season.
'He has been banned for two matches and we hope to get through this round to have him back for the following rounds,' said the Atletico coach.