Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has claimed that both Diego Costa and Arda Turan are serious doubts for Wednesday’s Champions League quarterfinal second leg against Barcelona at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.
The Brazil-born Spain international was working hard to be fit in time, but it was too early to say if he would make it, the Colchoneros boss told his pre-game news conference on Tuesday at the Calderon.
"Costa was able to jog on Monday," Simeone said. "I hope he is fit to play. If he is more or less fit he will be on the bench, if not then he will not play. There are still three possibilities. We will see after today’s training session. A player cannot play at 50 per cent, no matter who he is, he must be at 90 per cent to be able to play."
Simeone also suggested that Turkish playmaker Arda Turan -- man of the match in Atletico’s 0-0 La Liga draw with Barcelona at the Calderon in January -- was also struggling to be fit after he also missed Saturday’s game due to a groin problem.
"We will weigh up Arda’s fitness after today’s session," he said. "Just like Costa he has not been able to train with the group for a few days, but they are both very important players for the team."
The former Atletico midfielder then surprised those present by revealing that reserve Adrian Lopez, who has featured little recently and not scored for over four months, could well start in a two man attack alongside David Villa.
"Villa will be up front, with either Costa or Adrian. "If [Costa] does not play then Adrian will play, and for sure will play a really good game. He is a player who has given us a lot, and we have a lot of faith in him. If he plays I bet he will score a goal."
Last week’s 1-1 draw at the Camp Nou means that another goalless game on Wednesday would see Atletico through on away goals. Simeone suggested that it would be difficult to keep Barca scoreless, recalling obliquely that they had scored four times at Real Madrid’s Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in La Liga recently.
"Even if we have a small advantage with the result from first game it will not change anything," he said. "Barca will play the same as always, they will look to manage the game through possession of the ball. They are specialists in scoring goals. Not so long ago they scored four times in a place just near here."
Barca have been to the last six Champions League semifinals, while Atletico have not been into the final four of the competition since 1974. Nonetheless Simeone said that the pressure on both teams would be the same.
"I do not speak about pressure, I speak about responsibility," he said. "Our responsibility to play a big game. Barcelona’s responsibility to remain in the Champions League. We have no less responsibility than them. Of course it is an important game, a very nice game, with two absolutely different ways of playing.
"One with possession, talent and what they have done over last decade. Us with our heart, our humility, our counter-attack. This battle of styles is great for football -- both teams at their best -- it will be one of the nicest games, for sure, of the Champions League."