Simeone will make late Oblak call for Leverkusen clash

20 February 2017 21:30

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone will decide on the day of the game whether to put goalkeeper Jan Oblak straight back into action against Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League.

Oblak has missed over two months of action with a dislocated shoulder, but is now in contention to make his comeback for the continental clash having returned to training with the squad.

Miguel Angel Moya has filled in during the 24-year-old’s absence and Simeone will wait until Tuesday to decide who he will deploy between the sticks in the first leg of their last-16 tie.

“We will see on Tuesday if Jan Oblak is fit to start,” said Simeone.

“We will watch him in training. After that we will decide who plays and who does not.

“The doctors discharged him and he began training with us. Now he is challenging Miguel and Andre [Moreira].”

Simeone also faces a dilemma over whether to start Kevin Gameiro or Fernando Torres alongside Antoine Griezmann in attack for the away leg.

Gameiro scored a hat-trick last time out against Sporting Gijon – the fastest LaLiga treble for 22 years – while Torres has three goals this month and significant big-match experience.

“It is always good and important that the strikers score,” added Simeone. “Their characteristics are different and both are players who need minutes.

“Whether they start or have at least 30 minutes, we are happy that they are playing well.”

Simeone is expecting a massive test against Leverkusen, despite them sitting eighth in the Bundesliga. 

He said: “We have to see how they play because we are going to meet the best Bayer this season.

“Leverkusen are a very strong side, particularly on the wings with Karim Bellarabi and Kai Havertz. Up front they have Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez, who is in fine form. 

“It will be a hard match and they will press us at the top of the pitch. They are one of the most intense rivals we have played in the Champions League.

“We are going to find a team that deploys everything their coach asks – heart, enthusiasm, intention and a lot of intensity. Talent is important, but heart and hopefulness have a bigger place in football. 

“But our own team has grown in this beginning of 2017 compared with the end of 2016. We will keep trying to improve our consistency and make that last leap in quality.”

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