UEFA Cup Match Preview
Atletico Madrid coach Javier Aguirre has demanded that 18 "warriors" turn up for his side when they face Bolton on Thursday, but he will have to cope with a considerable number of absentees, most notably Kun Aguero. The Premiership outfit have a slight advantage after El-Hadji Diouf gave Bolton a 1-0 lead during last week's first leg at the Reebok Stadium...
The UEFA cup presents Atletico with their best chance of a trophy this season. They currently sit 15 points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid and are out of the Copa Del Rey. Atleti’s Mexican coach has thrown down the gauntlet and challenged his players to show their mettle against Bolton in what promises to be another explosive encounter. The Vicente Calderon will be buzzing tonight and no place for the fainthearted.
Aguirre has nevertheless called for maturity from his players and said "We have to score a goal and be intelligent. It is fundamental to know how to handle the game and to be brave,"
"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 have been on a poor run of late, after starting the season reasonably well, and 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 La Liga.
Aguirre has included defender Ze Castro, available again after injury, in his 18 man squad. Former Liverpool player Luis Garcia returns after missing the first-leg defeat to Bolton through suspension. Reserve-team players Alvaro Dominguez and Alex Quillo have also been included.
Atletico have a significant number of influential players missing. Aguirre will have to do without the suspended Raul Garcia in midfield, whilst injury also rules out goalkeeper Leo Franco, defensive pair Georgios Seitaridis and Juan Valera, plus midfielder Thiago Motta and winger Simao Sabrosa.
Most importantly, the outstanding Sergio Aguero will definitely miss the match following UEFA’s confirmation of a two match ban for unsporting behavior following his sending off at the Reebok a fortnight ago.