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Atlético's Falcao on guard for 'dangerous' Lazio

Club Atlético de Madrid must adopt the same attitude they did last week when they host S.S. Lazio with the comfort of a 3-1 lead, according to two-goal first-leg scorer Falcao.

Falcao celebrates one of his two goals in the first leg
Falcao celebrates one of his two goals in the first leg ©AFP

Club Atlético de Madrid may be sitting on a two-goal cushion ahead of their UEFA Europa League round of 32 decider but it is not a position Falcao intends to take too comfortably against an S.S. Lazio outfit he believes to be "highly dangerous".

Atlético recovered from a goal down to establish a 3-1 first-leg lead last week and Diego Simeone's side could be forgiven for considering themselves as good as through to the last 16 after outshining Lazio. The Rojiblancos have further cause to be confident having prevailed in each of their last four − and all five home − European matches this campaign.

However, Falcao, who knows all about winning this competition after scoring a record 17 goals on the way to victory with FC Porto last season, is refusing to countenance complacency in the return. "We have only played 90 minutes and the tie is by no means over yet," the 26-year-old striker told UEFA.com. "Lazio are highly dangerous and we cannot go out there thinking we are safely through. We must adopt the right attitude we had in the first leg and play our game in Madrid."

If the 2010 UEFA Europa League winners play at the same tempo at the Vicente Calderón then Lazio will need a vast improvement to live with them − not least because Falcao is showing the sort of form that propelled him to the top of the scorers' charts in this tournament last term. The Colombian international has plundered 14 goals in 20 Liga matches since joining in the summer for a fee in excess of €40m and has rattled off no fewer than 22 goals in 21 UEFA Europa League appearances in total.

"Falcao is a very important player for us and when you have a striker like that you have to learn how to get the best out of him," said Atlético playmaker Diego, another star of the Stadio Olimpico show. "We are doing that now. The team is improving and, consequently, so is he. However, we know that the tie is still wide open. The return will be as hard as the first leg. We will be expecting a tough test from Lazio because they are a good side − we will have to be on our guard."

Biancocelesti midfielder Matuzalem, for one, insists the Serie A team can mount a comeback. "We're still in with a chance of turning the tie around because we have got two or three players due to come back who can inspire us," said the 31-year-old. "It will obviously be difficult because they showed how well they can play.

"There is no doubt they are a great side with great players, but it is not impossible for us to go there and get the result because we have players of very high calibre ourselves. We're not out yet by any means."