Just when things appeared to be going smoothly for Atletico Madrid, Javier Aguirre’s side have been hit by a number of injuries ahead of their Champions League Group D encounter with Marseille.
A fortnight ago Atletico enjoyed an impressive return to the competition with a 3-0 victory at PSV Eindhoven. However, with defenders Giourkas Seitaridis and Pablo Ibanez joining Diego Forlan, Simao and Maniche in the treatment room, Aguirre’s resources are stretched to the limit. With so many players missing, Atlatico are pleased to welcome back John Heitinga, while Maxi Rodríguez and Mariano Pernía are back from suspension.
“We have to go for victory because we’re the home side,” Aguirre said. “We showed against PSV we like to play and we want to do so again against Marseille.
“Our substitutes’ bench will feature some young players. It’s true we have a lot of absentees but this is the Champions League and these things happen. We’ll deal with it. We’re at home and will feel the warm support of our fans on what will be an emotional occasion for everyone.”
Marseille have scored just three times in their last five games in all competitions, although coach Erik Gerets is unconcerned. He will be without the injured Elliot Grandin and Julien Rodriguez, but defender Ronald Zubar is back from a foot injury and forward Bakari Koné has recovered from a hamstring strain.
“We’re coming off the back of some negative results, but the boys are in good spirits,” said Gerets. “We’re looking to play a good match at a good level.”
Asked about his team’s chances at the Vicente Calderón, the 54-year-old added: “We’ve been studying Atlético and tomorrow we’ll try to get a result here against them. I saw the statistics of their game against PSV and in particular the percentage of possession they had. We have to do our best to try to rob them of the ball.”