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Fernando Torres Could Start Against Real Madrid As Illness Sidelines Mario Mandzukic

Atletico Madrid striker Mario Mandzukic has been suffering from the flu and missed yesterday’s training session with the squad. That means manager Diego Simeone may choose to start Fernando Torres during today’s decisive leg in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 at the Santiago Bernabeu.

When asked about his starting eleven during yesterday’s pre-match press conference, Simeone responded: “We are still finalizing our plans – a few of the lads picked up knocks. We’ll make our decision tomorrow morning.”

Torres started the first leg of the competition and was on the pitch when Raul Garcia won and converted a penalty to open the scoring in the 58th minute. But the striker’s contributions were limited in his first match since returning to his boyhood club.

Programming note: The second leg of Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 will be shown LIVE today starting at 1:55pm EST on beIN SPORTS and DishWorld.

Atletico Madrid hold a 2-0 lead coming off of last week’s first leg victory at the Vicente Calderon and are seeking to close out the tie.

Simeone’s side were knocked out of last season’s Copa del Rey in the semi-finals by Real Madrid, losing both legs by a combine score of 5-0 – including a 3-0 loss at the Bernabeu. A repeat of that defeat would be enough to send Real Madrid through to the quarter-finals and once again knock Atletico out of the competition.

During his yesterday’s pre-match press conference, Carlo Ancelotti said he expected raised intensity levels in the stands and on the pitch for this latest edition of the Madrid derby.

His counterpart Diego Simeone echoed those thoughts.

“I’m not expecting a calm game that gradually unfolds,” the Atletico Madrid manager said. “The game I am expecting is a game with a lot of adrenaline, counter attacks by both sides and lots of chances on goal for both teams. The loss of possession in midfield could be beneficial to both teams. I’m anticipating a high-octane match and not one which drags on until minute eighty.”

“We have a positive result from the first leg but obviously we’re playing against the world and European champions. Even just changing one player from their first choice line-up we know that we have to put in a very balanced performance.”

The match has been confirmed as a sell-out and Spanish police have increased their numbers ahead of what is expected to be a raucous environment inside and outside of the Bernabeu.

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