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Atletico Defines Pass Against Inter Milan

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Sitting precariously in fourth place in La Liga, Atletico Madrid is locked in an intense battle to secure its place in the UEFA Champions League. UEFA Champions League for next season, with Athletic Bilbao close on their heels, just two points behind.

Their aspirations for this season suffered a setback when they fell to a narrow 1-0 defeat to 2022-23 runners-up Inter Milan in the first leg of their Round of 16 clash, leaving them in need of a remarkable turnaround at the Cívitas Metropolitano on Wednesday.

Atletico Wants to Recover

In that encounter at the San Siro three weeks ago, Marko Arnautovic emerged as the key player, coming off the bench to score the decisive goal, setting up an imposing challenge for Atletico on their own turf.

Since that defeat, Los Colchoneros have been struggling, managing to secure just one win in their last five matches in all competitions, with one draw and three defeats, which has seen them lose ground in the fight for the top four places in La Liga and be eliminated from the Copa del Rey.

Remarkably, Atletico's woes were highlighted by their inability to generate a single shot on target in the first leg against Inter Milan.

This rare occasion has only been equaled once since the 2003-04 season, when Deportivo La Coruña failed to hit the target in both legs of a Champions League round of 16 tie against Porto in the semi-final.

Atletico Madrid will no doubt be optimistic about their prospects of performing better on their home turf.

Today's match marks Diego Simeone's 50th home coaching appearance in the Champions League, bringing him into the select group of seven coaches to reach this milestone.

Riding a Wave of Success

Impressively, of his previous 49 home games, he has only suffered defeat on five occasions, boasting an impressive record of 31 wins and 13 draws. This puts him alongside names such as Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho, who also suffered just five defeats in their first 50 home games.

Simeone's hopes hinge on the fitness of Antoine Griezmann, as the striker looks to overcome an ankle injury that kept him out of four games after the first match.

Griezmann's impact has been remarkable in this season's Champions League, scoring five goals from chances valued at 3.13 expected goals.

To pull off a comeback, the hosts may rely heavily on an energetic midfield performance from Rodrigo De Paul, who has created six chances from line-breaking passes in this season's Champions League.

However, Atletico face a formidable task against a resilient Inter side, given the Nerazzurri's history of advancing in seven of their eight previous Champions League knockout rounds after winning the first leg.

Inter Seeks To Stay In The European Race

Inter's solid position at the top of Serie A allowed Simone Inzaghi the luxury of resting key players such as Lautaro Martinez, Federico Dimarco, Benjamin Pavard and Denzel Dumfries during Friday's clash, where Yann Bisseck's solitary goal secured a hard-fought 1-0 victory over a formidable Bologna side.

The win marked the Nerazzurri's 13th consecutive victory in 2024 in all competitions, further cementing their dominance.

It is worth noting that they have amassed an impressive total of 47 league wins since the start of last season, an achievement shared only with Manchester City in Europe's top five leagues.

Aiming to secure a place in the Champions League quarterfinals for the third consecutive time, Inter is looking to replicate past successes achieved in 2004-05, 2005-06, 2009-10 and 2010-11.

While a clean sheet would be enough to ensure progression, another goal would significantly ease their path.

The team is pinning its hopes on Martinez to revive his European scoring prowess. Despite leading the Serie A scoring charts with 23 goals in 25 appearances, Martinez has only found the net twice in the Champions League.

However, Inter face challenges with Arnautovic and Carlos Augusto sidelined due to muscle injuries sustained against Bologna, compounded by the absence of Juan Cuadrado due to an Achilles injury.

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