Football: Atletico's Torres eyes maximum points against Champions League debutants Astana

MADRID • Atletico Madrid striker Fernando Torres has insisted his side must take maximum points from their two encounters with Champions League debutants Astana in the next fortnight to get their European campaign back on track.

The Spanish side host the Kazakh champions today, hoping to make amends for their first home defeat in the Champions League in six years by Benfica last month.

Diego Simeone's men are still well placed to qualify from Group C, thanks to their earlier 2-0 win at Galatasaray.

However, having made the quarter-finals in each of the last two seasons, Torres is keen for Atletico to reach the knockout stages as group winners to ensure an easier path to the last eight once more.

"We knew it was very important to win at Galatasaray ahead of the home match against Benfica. We won in Turkey, but it wasn't our plan to lose here at home against Benfica," he told Uefa.com.


Atletico Madrid players training in Madrid yesterday. They take on Champions League debutants Astana today and the Spanish giants aim to dominate the Kazakh side to top Group C. PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

"We need the points even more in the upcoming matches but we are confident that we will make it to the next round, which is our short-term objective.

"We want to finish first in our group, because you have more advantages, or let's say fewer disadvantages, in the next round. We are at that point now to know that we need six points in our next two matches."

Astana made the longest-ever trip in Champions League group-stage history when they travelled more than 6,000km to play Benfica and face another marathon trip as they try to spring a massive upset in the Spanish capital.

"On paper we are the favourites, but not really knowing them can be a real danger," added Torres, who is just one goal away from his 100th for the club.

Simeone has a fully-fit squad to choose from, but the Argentine could rotate his squad with a key clash against Valencia in La Liga to come on Sunday.

Astana secured their first point in the competition with a 2-2 draw at home to Galatasaray in a game dominated by three own goals.

The visitors will be without Ghanaian striker Patrick Twumasi as he serves the third of a four-game ban. AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 21, 2015, with the headline 'Torres eyes maximum points against Astana'. Print Edition | Subscribe