Leverkusen in tough spot facing Atletico in Champions League

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone listens to a question during a news conference at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid, Tuesday, March 14, 2017. Atletico Madrid will play a Champions League round of 16 second leg soccer match against Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday 15. (AP Photo/Francisco Seco)

Every team facing a big deficit will be able to retain some hope of pulling off a miracle thanks to Barcelona

MADRID — Thanks to Barcelona, every team facing a big deficit will be able to retain some hope of pulling off a miracle.

Bayer Leverkusen, which needs to overturn a 4-2 loss to Atletico Madrid in the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday, is at the top of the list.

"It's clear that it's a result that makes it difficult for us to advance to the next stage, but in the last few days we've seen what can happen in football," Leverkusen coach Tayfun Korkut told Spanish daily Marca. "We will not go to Madrid with the feeling that we've already been eliminated, we will go to fight until the end."

Last week, Barcelona overturned a 4-0 loss against Paris Saint-Germain, winning 6-1 in the second leg to reach the quarterfinals. No other team had reversed a four-goal deficit in the Champions League since the current format was introduced in the 1992-93 season.

"Comebacks can always happen," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. "Not just because of what happened in Barcelona. We want to play our game and we are expecting a fight."

Leverkusen may have a difficult time against an Atletico team that has only two losses in its last 33 home matches in European competitions.

Winless in its last four matches, Leverkusen will at least have a new coach on its bench with experience in Spanish soccer.

"We all know how much Atletico fans get behind their team," said Korkut, former Turkey midfielder who has coached Leverkusen for one match. "I experienced that when I played for Real Sociedad. I remember we won there 2-1 and I scored a goal in the year when we were runner-up in the league (2002-03)."

Korkut was appointed last week after Leverkusen fired coach Roger Schmidt amid its worst Bundesliga season in 14 years. Leverkusen had lost three games in a row, and five of its last seven, before Korkut took over for a 1-1 draw against Werder Bremen last weekend.

Leverkusen will be trying to become only the third team to overturn a home first-leg defeat in the top European competition. The only teams who did it were Ajax against Panathinaikos in 1995-96 and Inter Milan against Bayern Munich in 2010-11.

"We earned a very good result in the first leg but we can't take anything for granted," Atletico midfielder Koke said. "We have to give our best on Wednesday."

Leverkusen hasn't advanced past the last 16 of the Champions League since it lost to Real Madrid in the 2002 final.

Atletico, meanwhile, is looking to make it to the quarterfinals for the fourth straight season under Simeone. Virtually out of contention in the Spanish league, its best chance of lifting a trophy this season will come in the Champions League, the competition it lost to Real Madrid in the 2014 and 2016 finals.

"In the Liga, we're behind in the fight at the top. But in the Champions League, we've been very good this season and we're a step away from the quarters," Atletico defender Diego Godin said. "It would be a very important step for us to take and it's an important stage of the season both in Europe and on the domestic front. It's up to us to finish the season strongly on both fronts."

___

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

Related News

Troubled year in power for Coe confronting critics, Russia

Aug 10, 2016

Entrusted with cleaning up a sport mired in sleaze and doping deceptions has proved far trickier for Sebastian Coe than the pursuit of gold on the track

Coe not sure if fans will pack stadium for Olympic track

Aug 10, 2016

Even away from doping, there's little good news for track and field right now

Rugby couple put respect in front and center in Olympics

Aug 10, 2016

Isadora Cerullo has become a celebrity around Rio, more for what happened on the sidelines of the Olympic rugby stadium than for her performances on the pitch

You may also like these

Rugby couple put respect in front and center in Olympics

Aug 10, 2016

Isadora Cerullo has become a celebrity around Rio, more for what happened on the sidelines of the Olympic rugby stadium than for her performances on the pitch

Fijians demand Olympic gold for spiritual home of rugby 7s

Aug 11, 2016

When rugby sevens was added to the Olympic program for Rio seven years ago, there was an almost instant clamor for gold in Fiji

10 Things to Know for Friday

Aug 12, 2016

Among 10 Things to Know: Clinton knocks Trump in policy speech; American gymnast Simone Biles wins overall gold in Rio; US swimmers make history

Sport Solid is a dynamic sports news network that reports daily news updates 24/7. We speculate and publish news about the Premier League, World Cup, Formula 1, cricket, Super League, rugby union, tennis, boxing, and more.

Contact us: sales@sportsolid.com

Formula One Cricket Rugby League Rugby Union Tennis Boxing Press