Atletico Madrid midfielder Mario Suarez says he hopes Fernando Torres is welcomed back to the Estadio Vicente Calderon in Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg, but only after the former Colchoneros hero has a bad game against his first side.
Torres joined the Calderon club’s youth ranks aged 11 and by 19 was captain of a team which was featured current Atletico coach Diego Simeone in midfield. He left for Liverpool in summer 2007 for 30 million euros, then joined Chelsea in January 2011 for 58 million euros, and in recent months the now 30-year-old back-up striker been regularly linked with a return to his first club.
Suarez told Marca that although it would be special seeing ‘El Nino’ back where he first came to prominence, he could not wish him the best during the 90 minutes.
“For all Atleticos it will be very special to see Torres playing here,” the fellow Atletico youth team graduate said. “He has been an idol for us, he will be returning to the Calderon for the first time. If he plays I hope he has a really bad game, but can enjoy himself afterwards.”
Suarez said the two upcoming semifinal clashes would see a clash of two quite similar tactical set-ups.
“I do not want to compare one team with another, but it is true that we both have very clear identities,” he said. “They are a team who defend very well, do damage at set pieces, look for spaces to be able to run at the opposition team. There can be certain similarities. We hope our virtues beat theirs. They try and take advantage of the opposition team’s mistakes. We have to try and make no mistakes, and take advantage of theirs. And take our chances to be able to win the game.”
Also asked about the likely battle of minds between coaches Diego Simeone and Jose Mourinho by AS, Atletico captain Gabi Fernandez said his side were likely to try and break the stalemate by launching top scorer Diego Costa on the counter-attack.
“Mourinho’s team are very well prepared tactically and will come to play their game,” Gabi said. “We have to counteract their game with our game, and look for Diego [Costa] down the wings. The team whose plan is most successful will win.”
The pressure of a first European Cup semifinal in 40 years, while the team were also closing in on its first La Liga trophy since 1996, was not a factor, Gabi said.
“Even though we’ve come a long way, the most important part is still to play,” he said. “The team is prepared for the current situation, but we haven’t won anything yet. We can’t relax. We must show we can make another important step forward and reach the final. We are seeing an Atletico which can deal with the pressure, even more than all the praise. We have our feet on the ground because there is still a lot to play for. We are more motivated than anyone, I do not know if more capable, but for sure more motivated. We will try and use that.”
Simeone looks set to have a full squad to choose from for Tuesday’s first leg, with Arda Turan having returned to full training, although the Turkish playmaker is likely to be on the bench with Raul Garcia and David Villa making the XI. Costa is sure to start after scoring a penalty on his return from a cut shin in Friday’s 2-0 La Liga win over Elche. On-loan Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois appears set to play, with Marca saying a deal has been cut in private to see the Belgium international face his ‘parent’ club.