"Marseille is a very special place," Club Atlético de Madrid's French striker Florent Sinama-Pongolle admitted as he looked ahead to the Spanish visitors' concluding Group D fixture at the Stade Vélodrome.
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Club Atlético de Madrid forward Florent Sinama-Pongolle is excited to be returning to France to take on Olympique de Marseille in what he expects will be "a very special match".
The Spanish side made sure of their place in the UEFA Champions League first knockout round with a 2-1 home win over PSV Eindhoven on Matchday 5. Leading the Group D standings ahead of Liverpool FC on goal difference, the Rojiblancos will now go into their concluding fixture aiming to ensure they progress as group winners. "Everybody here is expecting a great game and obviously for me it will be a little extra special because I'm French," said Sinama-Pongolle.
The 24-year-old is more than familiar with Marseille. He started the teams' encounter on 1 October at the Vicente Calderón – a game that Atlético won 2-1 – and also met the southern French outfit in a UEFA Cup quarter-final defeat during his time at Liverpool in 2003/04, and Sinama-Pongolle predicts a charged atmosphere at the Stade Vélodrome where Marseille will be eager for three points to secure third spot ahead of PSV Eindhoven and, with it, a place in the UEFA Cup. "The atmosphere will be electric. Marseille is a very special place and the stadium has its own character."
Flanked by head coach Javier Aguirre at the team's pre-match press conference in Madrid, the man who has scored four Liga goals in ten appearances this term echoed his coach's view that Marseille carried a real threat with their pace. Yet he is confident his team-mates can match the opposition on an evening when they will be without their customary away following. After security problems when the sides first met, Atlético decided not to take up their ticket allocation for the match and Sinama-Pongolle said: "We're all in the same situation at the end of the day and we'll be giving our all on the pitch while they'll be trying to deal with the situation as best as they can."