Jose Maria Gimenez says Atletico Madrid will not be able to use the modified Champions League structure and conditions as an excuse when they face RB Leipzig in next month’s quarter finals.
The coronavirus pandemic forced UEFA to postpone the latter stages of its Champions League and Europa League competitions in March, with preparations for their results not revealed until three months later after the major domestic leagues’ schedules allowed for clarification.
UEFA announced significant alterations to the two competitions, with both set to conclude as localised mini-tournaments comprising of one-off matches from the quarter-finals onwards.
While the Europa League will be hosted across four German cities, the Champions League’s final stages head to Lisbon, where matches will be split between Sporting CP’s Jose Alvalade stadium and the Estadio da Luz, the home of Benfica.
Atletico will face Leipzig – conquerors of Tottenham in March – at the Jose Alvalade on August 13 and will have to do the business on the day, knowing they cannot rely on turning things around in a second leg.
“We have to compete, regardless of the format or location, knowing that we want to win it,” Gimenez told Atletico’s website. “We’ll do everything we can to do so.
“We have returned [to training after LaLiga’s conclusion] just like we left: thinking that, in a few days, we had to return to prepare in the best possible way for what is ahead. We’re very excited about what awaits.
“The football game against Leipzig will be very hard. The teams that make it to the quarter-finals are very tough, but we also show who we are when we compete.
“We know Leipzig are very attack-minded, with their full-backs high up the pitch. We have to play with our usual intensity and be focused, all of us, that way we’ll do well.”
The victor between Atletico and Leipzig will face either Paris Saint-Germain or Atalanta in the semi-finals.
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