By Richard Martin
(Reuters) – Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon stadium will be a tough venue for Bayern Munich when the two sides meet in a Champions League Group D match on Wednesday, the German club’s Javi Martinez said.
“It’s a struggle to get anything from this stadium,” midfielder Martinez told a news conference on Tuesday.
“A point away from home would be good for us although we always play to win. We’re up against the team who beat us in the semi-finals and even though we’ve won every game so far we know tomorrow’s game will be really tough.”
Manager Carlo Ancelotti agreed with Martinez’s apprehension about the stadium, saying: “It’s always a pleasure to come back to Madrid but it’s not exactly great to come back to the Calderon.”
Atletico denied Bayern a place in last year’s final, prevailing on away goals after a 2-2 aggregate result over the two-legged semi-final.
As a former coach of Atletico’s cross-town rivals Real Madrid, Ancelotti is well acquainted with Diego Simeone’s disciplined outfit having faced them 13 times, losing five, winning four and drawing four
“It’s no advantage having played them before as it’s always difficult to play against them,” Ancelotti told the news conference. “They are very organized and play with a lot of intensity.”
Ancelotti, who has overseen eight wins out of eight since succeeding Pep Guardiola at Bayern, paid tribute to Simeone.
“He’s a good friend and a very good coach, one of the best. I also like his style on the touchline. He expends more energy now than when he was a player,” he said.
Ancelotti said defender Mats Hummels had recovered from the knock which forced him in off in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Hamburg although he was less certain that Douglas Costa, injured since Sept. 17, would be match fit.
The game is being billed as a battle between two world-class strikers, Bayern’s Robert Lewandowski and Atletico’s Antoine Griezmann, who have each scored five league goals so far this season.
“We know Griezmann’s quality,” said Martinez. “Last season he scored against us in Munich to take them to the final but their togetherness and squad is their most dangerous quality.”
(Editing by Clare Fallon and Pritha Sarkar)