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Bayer Leverkusen coach says team must play on another level to beat Atletico Madrid

Much has been made about Diego Simeone’s tactics since the Argentine took control of Atletico Madrid three years ago. The club’s playing style under Simeone has been called “barbaric” and “violent” by opposing fans and some members of the media.

Regardless of those opinions, what can’t be questioned is the Spanish club’s rise domestically and in Europe over the past three seasons. During that time, Simeone has engineered perhaps the greatest renaissance in football while leading Atletico’s revival on the world scene.

Speaking ahead of his Champions League Round of 16 tie, Bayer Leverkusen coach Roger Schmidt said his side must play on another level to beat the reigning champions of Spain. But is confident his players would be able to execute his game plan tonight at the BayArena.

“We have to show everybody that we can cause Atletico trouble,” Schmidt said during his pre-match press conference. “But we will need two perfect days to go through.”

“As a home team we have a lot of attacking power and we can create chances, but it won’t be easy against a defensively strong side like Atletico.”

“Atletico have a great mentality. They always want to win and this is why they have achieved good results in the past. Nobody likes playing against Atletico. This says everything about the draw we got.”

“We will have to play on another level than in the Bundesliga. My team have given a lot to be here and we will do everything to go as far as we can.”

Leverkusen enter the match in sixth place in Bundesliga, having only won once in their last six matches in all competitions (1W 3D 2L). But Schmidt is adamant his team won’t dwell on their recent domestic failures and will raise their level against last season’s Champions League runners-up.

“The Bundesliga and Champions League are different competitions,” the Leverkusen boss added. “In the last two league matches we dropped points, but that is in the past.”

“We have two games in the Champions League that we will go into in the best shape possible. We are now focused on what we do in the Champions League.”

The coach went on to say his Bundesliga opposition have prepared Leverkusen for what Atletico Madrid will throw at them tonight.

“It’s something we face every week,” Schmidt concluded. “We know that they play more long balls and they look a lot for the second play. But again, we prepare each week to face different opponents. The level in the Champions League is much higher but we are prepared for them.”

Programming note: Bayer Leverkusen vs. Atletico Madrid will be shown LIVE today at 2:45pm EST on FOX Sports 2 and Fox Soccer 2Go. Sign up today for the free 7-day trial to Fox Soccer 2Go.


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