Atletico Madrid's Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic has recovered from injury and will start Tuesday's Champions League last-eight clash at home to city rivals Real Madrid, coach Diego Simeone said on Monday.
Atletico Madrid’s Croatia forward Mario Mandzukic has recovered from injury and will start Tuesday’s Champions League last-eight clash at home to city rivals Real Madrid, coach Diego Simeone said on Monday.
Mandzukic, who has netted five goals in eight appearances in Europe’s elite club competition this season, has had an ankle problem for several weeks and was replaced in the starting lineup by Fernando Torres for Atletico’s last two La Liga games.
Torres will likely start on the bench, with Mandzukic partnering in-form France forward Antoine Griezmann, who struck twice in Saturday’s 2-2 La Liga draw at Malaga, in attack.
Simeone’s men have had the upper hand over Real this season, beating their wealthier neighbours twice in La Liga, including a 4-0 thrashing at the Calderon in February, and knocking them out of the King’s Cup.
The home win in La Liga was the Spanish champions’ biggest victory over Real since 1987 and marked the first time they have completed a league double over them in more than 60 years.
Atletico also defeated Real over two legs to win the Spanish Super Cup in August, a measure of revenge for their defeat by Carlo Ancelotti’s side in last term’s Champions League final.
The showpiece in Lisbon was the first time teams from the same city had contested the European Cup final in the competition’s 59-year history.
Simeone said he and his players were solely focused on Tuesday’s game and would not be distracted by previous clashes.
“I am not winding back the clock and looking at past games because it will be a new and different match, part of a quarter-final tie, which is not the same as a Champions League final,” Simeone said.
“We will be facing a great opponent on a great run of form in the domestic league and who are performing strongly in the Champions League,” added the Argentine.
The return leg is at Real’s Bernabeu stadium on April 22.