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Atlético eager to return to big stage

Published: Monday 12 April 2010, 9.05CET
Club Atlético de Madrid will look to make it to a major final for the first time since the 1985/86 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup as they meet Liverpool FC for a third time in Europe in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.

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Published: Monday 12 April 2010, 9.05CET

Atlético eager to return to big stage

Club Atlético de Madrid will look to make it to a major final for the first time since the 1985/86 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup as they meet Liverpool FC for a third time in Europe in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.

Club Atlético de Madrid will look to make it to a major European final for the first time since losing to FC Dynamo Kyiv in the 1985/86 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup as they meet Liverpool FC for a third time in Europe in the UEFA Europa League semi-finals.

Previous meetings
• The sides met for the first time in last season's UEFA Champions League group stage with both games ending in 1-1 draws, Simão scoring in the 83rd minute of the game in Spain after Robbbie Keane had given Liverpool a 14th-minute lead.

• Liverpool went on to top Group D with 14 points and Atlético finished as runners-up on 12. Los Rojiblancos were knocked out by FC Porto on away goals in the last 16, while the Reds lost to Chelsea in the quarter-finals.

• The teams for the previous meeting at the Vicente Calderón on 22 October 2008 were:
Atlético
: Franco, Seitaridis, López, Forlán, Luis García (Agüero, 46), Sinama Pongolle (De las Cuevas, 75), Maniche, Simão, Perea, Camacho (Raúl García, 72), Domínguez.
Liverpool
: Reina, Arbeloa, Carragher, Agger, Dossena, Gerrard (Babel, 61), Mascherano, Alonso (Lucas, 75), Benayoun, Riera, Keane (Kuyt, 53).

Match background
• Atlético have played 17 games against English clubs, with the record W5 D8 L4 (W4 D4 L0 at home). That includes a 5-1 loss to Tottenham Hotspur FC in the 1962/63 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup final, which was held at Rotterdam's De Kuip stadium.

• They have not won in seven matches against sides from England since a 1-0 victory against Aston Villa FC in the 1997/98 UEFA Cup quarter-finals. However, they are yet to lose at home to English opponents.

• Liverpool overcame Spanish opponents – Barcelona on both occasions – in the semi-finals of the 1975/76 and 2000/01 UEFA Cups. Both times, they went on to win the trophy.

• Liverpool have played 28 games against Spanish sides in UEFA Club with the record W12 D10 L6 (W7 D4 L2 in Spain).

• Those statistics include victories in two European finals; Liverpool beat Real Madrid CF 1-0 to win the 1980/81 European Champion Clubs' Cup and overcame Deportivo Alavés 5-4 with an extra-time golden goal in the 2000/01 UEFA Cup final.

• This is Atlético's 11th appearance in a major UEFA club competition semi-final and their first since they lost to Parma FC in the 1998/99 UEFA Cup last four. Those ten previous semis have produced four wins and six defeats.

• This is Liverpool's 15th major semi-final, with their most recent being a loss to Chelsea FC in the 2007/08 UEFA Champions League last four. Their 14 previous semis have ended in 11 wins and three defeats.

• Atlético have only won one game since the start of the UEFA Champions League group stage, drawing eight and losing three. They have drawn their last four matches, progressing through the round of 16 and quarter-finals on away goals, drawing 2-2 away and 0-0 at home on both occasions.

• The 3-0 UEFA Champions League group-stage loss to FC Porto is Atlético's only defeat in their last 20 European fixtures at the Vicente Calderón. However, they have not won in six European home ties since beating Panathinaikos FC 2-0 in the UEFA Champions League play-off round on 25 August.

• Liverpool's record in six European away games this season reads W2 D1 L3. They have lost their last two UEFA Europa League fixtures on their travels.

Team facts
• Injury kept Liverpool striker Fernando Torres out of Liverpool's two games against Atlético in the 2008/09 UEFA Champions League group stage, and he misses out again this time around, having been ruled out until the end of the season after undergoing knee surgery.

• Torres left for Liverpool in 2007 having scored 84 league goals in 214 games for Atlético. 'El Niño' (the kid) joined the Atlético youth ranks as a ten-year-old, was the top scorer for Spain at both the 2001 UEFA European Under-16 Championship and 2002 U19 finals, made his Atlético debut at 17 and was captain by the age of 19.

• Rafael Benítez and Quique Sánchez Flores were at Real Madrid CF in 1994/95, the former as reserve-team coach and the latter as a right-back. Both started their coaching career in the youth ranks at the Santiago Bernabéu club, Benítez in 1986 and Quique Flores in 2001.

• Benítez and Quique Flores's only previous competitive meeting came when Madrid – featuring the Atlético coach as a player – beat the Liverpool manager's Real Valladolid CF side 4-1 on 3 January 1996.

• Benítez's nine games against Atlético as a coach in Spain ended W4 D1 L4 (W2 D1 L1 in Madrid), while he came up against Torres in one of those fixtures, a 3-0 win for Valencia CF on 20 September 2003.

• Two Atlético players have experience of Premier League football; José Antonio Reyes represented Arsenal FC (2004-07) while Diego Forlán played for Manchester United FC (2002-04).

• Reyes featured in two games against Liverpool in 2004/05, a 2-1 loss at Anfield and a 3-1 home win in which he scored his side's second goal.

• Forlán played against Liverpool twice as a United player. Both games were league fixtures at Anfield which United won 2-1, the Uruguay striker scoring both his side's goals in the first of those matches on 1 December 2002.

• Forlán also played alongside Pepe Reina in the latter's final season at Villarreal CF; the Yellow Submarine finished third in the 2004/05 Liga campaign.

• Reina (FC Barcelona 1999-02 and Villarreal 2002-05) is one of six members of Liverpool's European squad who have experience of Spanish football, the others being:
- Fernando Torres (Atlético 2000-07)
- Fábio Aurélio (Valencia 2000-06)
- Albert Riera (RCD Mallorca 2000-03, RCD Espanyol 2005-08)
- Yossi Benayoun (Real Racing Club 2002-05)

• Reina's record against Atlético: W2 D1 L3 (W0 D0 L3 in Madrid)
Fábio Aurélio's record against Atlético: W1 D2 L1 (W0 D2 L1 in Madrid)
Benayoun's record against Atlético: W2 D2 L2 (W1 D1 L1 in Madrid)
Riera's record against Atlético: W1 D0 L2 (W1 D0 L0 in Madrid)

• Liverpool left-back Fábio Aurélio played under Benítez at both Valencia and Liverpool, but was also coached by Quique Flores in 2005/06, his final season at Mestalla.

Final facts
• The second leg takes place at Anfield on 29 April, with the winners facing either Hamburger SV or Fulham FC in the final at the Hamburg Arena on 12 May. Both Fulham and Hamburg started the season in the UEFA Europa League group stage, while Atlético and Liverpool finished third in their UEFA Champions League groups.

• Seven UEFA Cup finals have been contested by sides from the same association, though there have been no all-English encounters since the very first edition of the UEFA Europa League's precursor:

1971/72 – ENG: Tottenham Hotspur FC beat Wolverhampton Wanderers FC
1979/80 – GER: Eintracht Frankfurt beat VfL Borussia Mönchengladbach
1989/90 – ITA: Juventus beat ACF Fiorentina
1990/91 – ITA: FC Internazionale Milano beat AS Roma
1994/95 – ITA: Parma FC beat Juventus
1997/98 – ITA: FC Internazionale Milano beat S.S. Lazio
2006/07 – ESP: Sevilla FC beat RCD Espanyol

Last updated: 27/11/12 12.53CET

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