Troubled Atletico Madrid return to ’scene of crime’

September 29th, 2009 - 5:56 pm ICT by IANS  

By Duncan Shaw
Madrid, Sep 29 (DPA) A commonplace in crime novels is that the criminal always returns to the scene of the crime. Well, that’s exactly what troubled Atletico Madrid will do Wednesday when they return to FC Porto’s Estadio Do Dragao in Champions League Group D action.

It was in Do Dragao that luckless Atletico were edged out of the Champions League last season, at the round of 16 stage.

They had been held to a 2-2 draw at home by Porto in the first leg - with their defence as usual throwing away the good work of the forwards - then narrowly failed to score the crucial away goal that would have taken them into the quarters.

Now, the same as in March, they really need to win in Porto.

Atletico made a terrible debut in the competition, being held to a frustrating 0-0 draw at home by Cypriot minnows Apoel Nicosia.

“We really must win Wednesday,” said star striker Diego Forlan Monday. “Any other result would be bad for us.”

Forlan’s goals - he was La Liga top scorer, for the second time - were crucial in giving Atletico a fourth-place finish last season. But the same as his team-mates, the Uruguayan is in horrible form, short of confidence and hurried in his finishing.

“We have not made a good start,” admitted Forlan, “but things in football can change very quickly.”

Atletico are third from bottom in La Liga with just three points from five games.

The three men in the eye of the Atletico storm are unpopular president Enrique Cerezo, general director Miguel Angel Gil - son of controversial former club owner Jesus Gil - and embattled coach Abel Resino.

The club’s long-suffering fans regularly demonstrate against the Cerezo-Gil tandem, mostly because they actually raked in more money in sales this summer than they spent on new signings.

Abel still enjoys a residue of popularity because of his feats as Atletico goalkeeper in the early 1990s - he holds the Liga record for minutes without conceding a goal, 1,275 minutes in 1991 - but patience is in short supply right now at the Estadio Calderon.

Abel, 49, took over the burning Atletico bench from the sacked Javier Aguirre in February - just in time to be edged out by Porto.

One Atletico players especially keen to win in Porto is midfielder Paulo Assuncao, who joined Atletico from Porto 14 months ago.

The Brazilian anchorman said on Monday that “Porto has a good team and it will not be easy to beat them, but I believe that we can win there and return to Madrid with three points.”

Assuncao added that “it does not go through our heads not to qualify for the next phase.”

He concluded by saying that “we will continue working in order to turn around the bad start that we have made. The group is working hard, our training sessions are very intense and we will continue working in order to avoid more mistakes.”

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