Flores wants to cheer up Atletico fans

Atletico have had a miserable season by their own standards,

particularly in a run of one win in 11 Primera Division matches at

the start of the campaign which saw former coach Abel Resino lose

his job in October. Things have improved bit by bit under Sanchez

Flores and, though they remain a relatively lowly 10th in the

league, they hold the slight edge heading into Thursday’s game

having drawn 2-2 at the Mestalla in the first leg. “It was

difficult to anticipate the scenario the team is now in,” Sanchez

Flores, a former player and coach at Valencia, said on Atletico’s

website. “The important thing is to be aware of where we were to

enjoy this more if possible. “Our fans are very excited and have

the opportunity to qualify for a European semi-final. “It’s

positive and exciting and we look forward to giving our fans

something new to cheer about.” It could have been better for

Atletico at the Mestalla had David Villa not grabbed an equaliser

eight minutes from time. That goal could prove crucial as

Atletico’s home form has proved disappointing in Europe this term.

They failed to win a single home game in the Champions League group

stage and have also drawn with both Galatasaray and Sporting Lisbon

at the Vicente Calderon since dropping into the Europa League.

There may be a slight sense of deja vu in the Valencia camp, as

they progressed in the last round after drawing the home leg

against Werder Bremen – albeit in extraordinary circumstances as

the second leg in Germany finished 4-4. “We did it the difficult

way in Germany and we are capable of repeating that in Madrid,”

David Silva told www.uefa.com. Ever Banega and Bruno are banned for

Valencia, who also have a plethora of injury worries. Among those

sidelined are Carlos Marchena and David Albelda, as well as

defenders Luis Miguel, Jeremy Mathieu and Angel Dealbert. Jose

Antonio Reyes and Juan Valera are doubts for Atletico, but Luis

Perea, who missed Sunday’s 3-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna through

suspension, is free to return.