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Quique Flores eyes Sporting reunion

Club Atlético de Madrid coach Quique Sánchez Flores has "great memories" of games against Sporting Clube de Portugal from his year at SL Benfica – he expects another tough battle in the last 16.

Quique Sánchez Flores is looking forward to another big game against Sporting
Quique Sánchez Flores is looking forward to another big game against Sporting ©Getty Images

Quique Sánchez Flores is relishing a trip down memory lane as his Club Atlético de Madrid side prepare for their round of 16 first leg against Sporting Clube de Portugal, a team he has enjoyed some excited battles with in the past.

Atlético were struggling when Quique Flores took up the helm in October, but he has led them on a gradual climb up the Liga table to the safety of mid-table, though they needed a last-minute goal to earn a share of the spoils at Real Zaragoza on Sunday. It was another late effort, from Diego Forlán, that gave Los Colchoneros a dramatic UEFA Europa League win against Galatasaray AŞ in the last 32 to set up this contest with Sporting. After a year at SL Benfica, it is a tie that excites Atlético's coach.

"I have great memories from the derbies when I was there," said Quique Flores, whose Benfica outfit pipped Lisbon rivals Sporting on penalties to win last season's Portuguese League Cup. "They were all good matches, so I'm expecting another one. Sporting didn't have a great start to the season, but are much better now and have played well in their last three games."

Sporting have won all three of those matches, including a 3-0 victory against Everton in the last round, scoring ten goals without reply. Striker Liedson scored all four in Sunday's success at CF Os Belenenses and as well as picking him out as a threat, Quique Flores also highlighted the danger posed by "João Moutinho, for his organisation and creativity, and Miguel Veloso".

Atlético are at full strength, while the visitors will be without Daniel Carriço and Yannick Djaló through injury. However, Sporting coach Carlos Carvalhal remains positive. "We're here to go through to the next stage," he said. "We have won some very important games against very good teams without some regular first-team players, so we can do it again."