The Vicente Calderón will be silent when Club Atlético de Madrid line up against PSV Eindhoven but, with a place in the knockout rounds at stake, home coach Javier Aguirre is urging his side to do their talking on the pitch.
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The Vicente Calderón Stadium will fall eerily silent when Club Atlético de Madrid line up against PSV Eindhoven in Group D but, with a place in the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds at stake, home coach Javier Aguirre is urging his charges to do their talking on the pitch.
Should Atlético display the sort of dominance over PSV that earned them a 3-0 victory in Eindhoven on Matchday 1, they will seal progress with a game to spare. Even a draw would suffice if Olympique de Marseille fail to beat Liverpool FC in the section's other fixture, and despite losing the benefits of home advantage because of a stadium ban incurred after a series of incidents at the match against Marseille on 1 October, Aguirre's side "are very motivated". "We want to qualify," said the 50-year-old, who is himself confined to the stands as he completes a two-game suspension. "I've told the players that they must start with a high tempo and not be distracted by the empty stands – we can't afford to start in a laid-back manner."
Atlético were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at CD Numancia on Sunday, but Aguirre insists that performance is already behind them as he prepares for "the strangest match I have ever overseen". "We've forgotten about the weekend as this is a different competition," said the Mexican, who will again be shorn of defender Antonio López due to vertigo. "We want to qualify at home and ensure that we don't have to go to Marseille needing a result."
PSV coach Huub Stevens understandably has other aspirations, having cut a calm figure in the pre-match news conference, despite the Dutch champions needing to claim a first win in Spain in eleven attempts if they want to keep alive their slender hopes of progress. "It's an important match for both teams," said the former Hamburger SV boss, who will be without injured trio Dirk Marcellis (hamstring), Jan Kromkamp (ankle) and Nordin Amrabat (groin). "The fact that they will have no fans here may be an advantage for us, but I don't think it will be a very significant one."
PSV approach the game on the back of a 4-0 Eredivisie victory over Heracles Almelo on Saturday, which ended a four-game losing streak in all competitions – the team's worst run since 1967. It is hardly ideal preparation to face a side that overwhelmed them so comprehensively two months ago, and Stevens conceded that with quality coursing through the Atlético ranks, his charges have plenty to worry about. "Sergio Agüero is one to watch, but it isn't just about him," he said. "Maxi Rodríguez and Simão will also be a huge threat. We can take some positives from our first game with them, when our possession was good, as was our speed on the ball." Two goals from Agüero and another from Maniche put a different slant on things, but with the Vicente Calderón empty, they may have their chance for revenge.