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Simeone expects Atleti fans to be 'ready to burst' as Diego Costa returns to face Liverpool

By Ben Spratt

Madrid, February 18: Diego Simeone says Atletico Madrid are optimistic heading into their Champions League clash with Liverpool, where Diego Costa is in line for a return.

Atleti are enduring a tough campaign and have a battle on their hands in La Liga to secure qualification for next season's elite European club competition.

Simeone's side should be boosted by Costa's first appearance since November following neck surgery, though.

The former Chelsea striker is in Atleti's 19-man squad to play Liverpool in the first leg in Madrid, although neither Kieran Trippier nor Joao Felix are fit.

Simeone told a pre-match news conference on Monday: "(Costa) is improving, growing, training enthusiastically.

"He is among the 19 players in the squad and has the opportunity tomorrow to play the game."

Atleti have won just one of their past seven games in all competitions, losing the Supercopa de Espana final and crashing out of the Copa del Rey to minnows Cultural Leonesa in that time.

But Simeone insists the mood in the camp is positive ahead of a meeting with the European and world champions.

"I do not see pessimism. I see optimism, emotion," he said. "There is going to be a stadium ready to burst.

"The players really want the match to come, and I see what I like best, which is optimism."

Indeed, Simeone hopes the Wanda Metropolitano can provide the same inspiration for Atleti as Anfield so often does for Liverpool.

"They have a vibrant stadium that will make us suffer when we go there," he said. "But tomorrow, the same thing will happen at the Wanda, and I trust my players a lot."

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Story first published: Tuesday, February 18, 2020, 3:10 [IST]
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