Atletico Madrid must not focus solely on Cristiano Ronaldo during their Champions League opener against Juventus, says Jose Gimenez.
Cristiano Ronaldo is not the only threat Atletico Madrid will have to contend with against juventus, Jose Gimenez has warned ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League showdown.
Ronaldo scored a hat-trick in the last meeting between the two sides in March, securing a 3-2 aggregate win for Juve in Turin.
While that victory sent Juve into the quarter-finals – where they were beaten by Ajax – their reunion with Atletico comes in the opening fixture of Group D, which also includes Bayer Leverkusen and Lokomotiv Moscow.
Former Real Madrid star Ronaldo has a great record against Los Blancos’ rivals and is the record goalscorer in Madrid derbies.
But Gimenez does not believe Atletico will need to draw any extra motivation from Juve’s comeback, and urged them not to focus too much on Ronaldo.
“The motivation comes from us, the past is the past,” Gimenez said ahead of the match at Wanda Metropolitano.
“We want to play with the same desire we have in any game, in any competition.
“He’s a great striker, but Juve is not just Cristiano Ronaldo. We can’t think of the game that way. The important thing is to do a great group job.
“We are always motivated. But we know how important this game is, it is the first of the group. It’s another season, with other players, it’s all different.”Coach Diego Simeone echoed Gimenez’s thoughts, though conceded Atletico may not be able to keep out Ronaldo if he is in the mood once more.
“It is difficult to prepare a game against him,” said Simeone.
“He is a goal animal, he is at a different level and with him in the area he needs attention, he is not easy to control, he has a change of pace and an ability to score that we have suffered as seen.”
Portugal’s next rising star is Joao Felix, who has scored one goal in four LaLiga appearances so far this season for Atletico following his €126million move from Benfica, but Simeone stressed the 19-year-old will need time to adapt to the intensity of the Champions League.
“Champions are talented players who can make you win games against any rival,” he said.
“We are trying to improve, to grow, to adapt to this type of competition, to make young players understand what it is. I think with Joao Felix, it will take time.”