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‘Atletico must avoid another weak start’

13 January 2015, 14:43

MADRID - Atletico Madrid must avoid another poor first-half showing if they are to protect their 2-0 lead over Real Madrid in the King's Cup on Thursday and advance to the quarter-finals, according to fullback Juanfran.

Atletico go into the last 16, second leg at Real's Bernabeu stadium following Sunday's 3-1 La Liga defeat at Barcelona, when the home side started much the stronger and Atletico only really got going in the second period.

Atletico beat Real 2-0 at the Calderon in last week's Cup first leg and the winners of the tie will almost certainly meet Barca in the last eight as the Catalan side have a 5-0 advantage before their second leg at Elche on Thursday.

"Some days you can also play badly and not be at your best," Juanfran said in an interview with As sports daily published on Tuesday. "That's what happened to us in the first half (at Barca).

"If it happens more often we won't be able to compete for the objectives we have set ourselves."

Also read: Atletico poised to eliminate Real Madrid

Spain international Juanfran has been one of Atletico's key performers over the past couple of seasons, helping them win La Liga last term for the first time in 18 years and reach the final of the Champions League, where they lost to Real.

Many of Atletico's goals come following one of his bursts down the wing and the 30-year-old has also made the right back slot his own for Spain.

"We (Atletico) are a team of winners although of course you can always lose at the Nou Camp," he told As.

"The defeat was something that hurt us and we were down afterwards but as soon as the game was over we were already thinking about the next matches we have to play."

In Tuesday's last 16, second legs, Valencia have a 2-1 advantage over Espanyol and would likely face Sevilla in the quarter-finals, while Malaga are 2-0 up on Levante and on course for a last-eight clash against Athletic Bilbao.

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- Reuters


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