Atletico Madrid, Clubs, Sporting CP, Story, UEFA Europa League

Atletico Madrid will hope to put one foot in the Europa League semi-finals when they host Sporting Lisbon on Thursday.
Atletico welcome their Portuguese opponents in the quarter-final first leg having won all four of their previous games in this season’s competition, having dropped out of the Champions League.
And defender Diego Godin hopes Atleti can take control of the tie in the opening encounter.
“We’re going to play in front of our fans and in these competitions, it’s important to win the first match,” the Uruguay international said, according to Atletico’s website.
“I’ve watched Sporting a lot. They’re a very vertical team and they attack a lot from the wings.
“They’re having a good season in Portugal and they’re a competitive team.”
Diego Simeone will be able to pick Juanfran after the right-back overcame a hamstring injury suffered in the last round against Lokomotiv Moscow.
Diego Costa suffered a scare in training when he was spotted limping, but was able to complete the session, though defender Jose Gimenez is likely to miss out.
Simeone said: “I’ve seen Sporting’s matches in the Champions League, Portuguese league and the Europa League. They always try to minimise the rival and make the game equal.
“They pressure well and play with a high line. They’re going to try to take advantage of their offensive power and presence in the box.”
Atletico are enjoying playing at their new Wanda Metropolitano home, having won their last eight games there, while they will look to history for a good omen as they beat Sporting Lisbon on their way to winning the Europa League in the 2009-10 campaign.
Sporting travel across the border having never won in Spain in a competitive match and were not helped by a disappointing league defeat to Braga at the weekend, which leaves their title challenge in tatters.
That has left boss Jorge Jesus facing question marks over his future, with reports in Portugal suggesting the capital club could be planning a summer change.
But the coach is fully focused on Thursday’s tie.
“We know Atletico are favourites, but they know our value. We are not unknown,” said Jesus, according to Sporting’s website.
“Whatever happens here, there will be a second game. What is important for Sporting is that in this first game, even winning, will always have to play the second match. Winning or not, it is necessary to take the tie to Lisbon.
Jesus could be hamstrung in Madrid by the fact that six of his players are one booking away from suspension.
Marcos Acuna, Fabio Coentrao, Gelson Martins, Bruno Fernandes, Rodrigo Battaglia and Bas Dost are all working a disciplinary tightrope.

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