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Diego keen for Atlético to avoid a Udinese repeat

Diego wants Club Atlético de Madrid to heed the lessons of the 2-0 defeat by Udinese Calcio on matchday three when they host the Zebrette. "We have to be focused throughout," he said.

Mehdi Benatia puts Udinese ahead against Atlético on matchday three
Mehdi Benatia puts Udinese ahead against Atlético on matchday three ©Getty Images

Diego has urged Club Atlético de Madrid to be more ruthless when they renew UEFA Europa League acquaintances with Udinese Calcio, two weeks after a frustrating 2-0 defeat in north-east Italy.

Gregorio Manzano's men enjoyed the majority of possession and chances only to be on the receiving end of a lesson in clinical efficiency as their opponents scored twice late on through Mehdi Benatia and Antonio Floro Flores.

Atlético, says the former Juventus playmaker, were guilty of making "mistakes we can't repeat" at the Estadio Vicente Calderón. "We have to be focused throughout the 90 minutes," added the 26-year-old. "It's not easy to score against an Italian team and we must take our chances."

Nonetheless, Diego and Co are still handily placed in Group I. They are two points clear of Celtic FC and Stade Rennais FC and three behind leaders Udinese − and approach the fixture energised by a first win in eight, Sunday's 3-1 defeat of Real Zaragoza. They are, however, without José Antonio Reyes because of flu.

"Against Zaragoza we were united," said Diego, on loan at Atlético from VfL Wolfsburg. "Victories help us play with confidence and I'm sure our last win will help us tomorrow. I'm especially motivated by playing for Atletico and I have nothing to prove against Italian teams. We won't have many chances to score. Udinese are a very defensive squad and let you control the match, but when they attack they do it very well."

In contrast to Atlético, Udinese are a team in form. The Zebrette are second in Serie A and have lost just once in their last 12 games, yet quite easily could have come unstuck on matchday three. Their prospects of a repeat success have not been helped by the absence of their nine-goal top scorer, Antonio Di Natale, because of muscular problems.

"Atlético played well in Udine and maybe deserved something, but it was a very even match and we were luckier," conceded Udinese coach Francesco Guidolin. "We know we are in a tough group that could be a Champions League one. We must keep rotating players because for us it's very important to continue on the path we set out on at the beginning of the season."

Samir Handanovič, meanwhile, is anticipating a busy night trying to keep Diego et al at bay for a second time. "I'm worried about the whole team, especially their attacking side," said the Udinese goalkeeper. "I'm sure they're going to make me work a lot."