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Atlético pair fight Anfield nerves

Raúl García and David de Gea know Club Atlético de Madrid are up against it as they take a 1-0 lead to Liverpool FC, the former saying the Reds "are a completely different side" at home.

Atlético pair fight Anfield nerves
Atlético pair fight Anfield nerves ©UEFA.com

Club Atlético de Madrid midfielder Raúl García and goalkeeper David de Gea told UEFA.com they are up for a thrilling challenge as they head to Anfield, 1-0 up in their UEFA Europa League semi-final against Liverpool FC and bidding for a first major European title since Los Rojiblancos won the 1961/62 UEFA Cup Winners' Cup.

Diego Forlán's scuff and scramble strike at the Vicente Calderón has given Quique Sánchez Flores's side the advantage as they bid to make it to the inaugural UEFA Europa League final in Hamburg, but 23-year-old midfielder Raúl García knows the story is far from over.

"Going to Anfield in a relaxed mood would be a huge mistake," he said. "We know they are going to put us under a lot of pressure, a lot more than they did here. When they play at home they are a completely different side."

The former CA Osasuna man knows Liverpool well from watching Premier League football on television, and said: "It's not easy for any of these players to surprise anyone, because everybody knows them and how good they are."

However, he believes that Rafael Benítez's side are not quite so daunting a prospect without former Atlético forward Fernando Torres, who has undergone knee surgery. "When he is not there, his absence is felt throughout the team," he said.

De Gea, whose assured performances in goal in his debut season have belied his 19 years, is feeling cautiously optimistic about his Anfield debut, having kept the Reds at arm's length at home. "Liverpool are a great team, but we did our best to unsettle their attack, and it's rare that they don't have a shot on goal," he said. "Forlán's goal was very important, but the most important thing is that I kept a clean sheet. Our defence was very firm, and when you are in goal against such a great team, that's a big deal."

The Anfield atmosphere is something most players would love the opportunity to savour, but De Gea is not in town to sight-see. "People talk very positively about the fans and the ground, so we have to enjoy it, but everyone from Atlético must give their maximum there to qualify for the next round," he said. "Our fans are very excited. That is normal; we are in a semi-final. But we are taking it step by step. We have to fight for them, for the fans, to win a title after so many years."