Atletico coach Simeone welcomes 'important' Griezmann return

AFP , Tuesday 12 Mar 2024

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone and defender Axel Witsel said Tuesday they hoped Antoine Griezmann's return could propel them into the Champions League quarter-finals.

Atletico Madrid s French forward #07 Antoine Griezmann attends a training session on the eve of thei
Atletico Madrid s French forward #07 Antoine Griezmann attends a training session on the eve of their UEFA Champions League last 16 second leg football match against Inter Milan at the club s training ground in Majadahond. AFP

 

The French forward suffered an ankle sprain in the 1-0 first leg defeat by Inter Milan in February and missed the following four matches across all competitions, in which Atletico won just once.

Griezmann has trained ahead of the second leg at the Metropolitano stadium in the Spanish capital on Wednesday and could start.

"Griezmann gives the team a lot of strength... he's a very important player, we are very happy that he is back," Witsel told a news conference.

Coach Simeone said the 32-year-old's return would expand his options in the clash against last year's runners-up.

"His return to the team gives us more solutions and more tactical possibilities... and we hope he has the game that he wants to have," said Simeone.

Atletico were beaten 2-0 on Saturday by lowly Cadiz in La Liga but the coach expected supporters would back the team to the hilt against Inter.

"We'll accept what they want to give us -- they always give everything and support us, I am sure our fans will be like they always are," added Simeone.

Atletico are fourth in La Liga and facing a battle with Athletic Bilbao to hold on to that spot, while the Basque team knocked them out of the Copa del Rey in the semi-finals.

"I can say that I believe in my players, in my team and I know they will have a good game," said Simeone.

"In recent games the team has not maintained the level they had been playing at and we hope to keep growing after the lessons (we've been given)."

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