Atlético Madrid missed a golden opportunity to get back on track in the Champions League by drawing 0-0 against Qarabag in Baku. Wednesday’s result leaves Atlético on just two points through three matchdays and in need of back-to-back victories over the Azerbaijani champs AND AS Roma — not impossible, but not at all straightforward.
After the match, Diego Simeone and several players gave their thoughts on a difficult match and the road ahead.
On the disappointing draw:
“In the first half, we had several chances. However, in the second half we were playing very rushed and weren’t as solid as we should’ve been.
"We had two or three one-on-one chances with their keeper in the first half but could not take them. In the second half, maybe the necessity to win meant we did not have enough clarity to create opportunities.”
On his belief in the team and the must-win Champions League matches ahead:
“I absolutely believe in this team and group of players.
“I always want to transmit optimism and I think we can get ourselves out of this situation. I repeat, I absolutely believe in this team and group of players.”
On the lack of front line firepower:
"They were strong and we found it hard to score. We forwards must improve and find the solution to score more goals.
"We knew it was going to be difficult, that they would sit back. We had a few chances but we didn't take them. We are still strong from the back and making chances, but it is [down to] us. Forwards can go on runs like this, but we must remain confident in ourselves."
On the road ahead:
"We will give everything to win them all, and then see what happens. We've still got three games and we'll fight to the end."
On Atlético’s chances of progression:
“It’s difficult, but we are optimistic and we believe in [the strength] of the team. As long as there are possibilities, we will fight for them. We have to play against this team [in matchday four] and win. And we have to beat Roma.”
On the controversial penalty appeal of Dino Ndlovu, which resulted in the latter being sent off:
“The referee saw that he dove and pulled out a second yellow.”
On the mood of the dressing room:
“The feeling is strange, but we know that we are capable of pulling this off.”
On his team’s anxiety after Ndlovu’s sending off:
“I think [we were] a little rushed. We started with a lot of desire to win and a lot of pressure. We were better in the final minutes of the first half.”
On what happened:
“We haven’t taken our chances in front of goal. In the second half we didn’t have many chances and they [Qarabag] played a good match. We congratulate them for it.
They played their game well, we could not score. The more and more we hurried, the more we attacked with heart instead of head. But we are able to pull this off [qualify for the knockouts].