Real Madrid out to make most of home leg against Atletico
ABS-CBN Sports on May 02, 2017 10:47 AM
FILE - In this Tuesday, April 18, 2017 file photo, Real Madrid's Sergio Ramos celebrates at the end of the Champions League quarterfinal second leg soccer match between Real Madrid and Bayern Munich at Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, Spain. The Champions League semifinals begin this week with Spanish rivals Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid meeting for the fourth consecutive time in the European competition, while surprising French club Monaco will try to keep Italian champion Juventus from returning to the final for the second time in three seasons. (AP Photo/Daniel Ochoa de Olza, File )
TALES AZZONI, AP Sports Writer
MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid wants to do all the hard work at home in the Champions League semifinals against Atletico Madrid.
The defending European champion wants to make the most of home advantage in Tuesday's first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and avoid the need for a difficult comeback at the Vicente Calderon Stadium - where Atletico has an impressive record in European games.
"We know the importance of this first game and it's all we are thinking about," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said on Monday. "We have to play as if there was no return match. We need to be focused from the first minute until the last and we need the fans to be behind us."
The second leg is next week at the Vicente Calderon, where Atletico has thrived with 29 wins in 35 games in European competitions.
"We can't think about the next match, only about the one that we have tomorrow," said Zidane, who led Madrid to its 11th European Cup title last season and also won the trophy as a player with the Spanish club.
Madrid defender Dani Carvajal said a win at home is important to keep Atletico from resorting to its traditional defensive-minded game at the Calderon.
"A victory at home is crucial to force them to attack at the Calderon," the right back said.
And if Madrid wants to take a commanding lead before the second leg, it will be just as crucial to avoid conceding goals, something Zidane's team hasn't been able to do recently.
Madrid has conceded at least once in all but one of its last 16 matches in all competitions. It has conceded at least two goals in four of its last five games.
"I don't think we have been making it too easy for our opponents, but it's true that we have been letting in goals. We haven't been getting as many clean sheets as we did last year," Zidane said. "Sometimes that is not something you can avoid, but we have to try to keep our opponents from making things difficult for us. Tomorrow it will be important to have a clean sheet and to score goals."
Madrid has conceded 15 goals in 10 matches in the Champions League this season. Atletico has conceded only five.
Madrid is trying to beat Atletico in the Champions League for the fourth straight time. It defeated the city rival in the final both in 2014 and 2016, and also in the quarterfinals in 2015.
The teams drew 1-1 when they met in a Spanish league match at the Bernabeu earlier this season.
More AP Champions League coverage: http://apne.ws/2lgcPZm
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