Arsene Wenger says Atletico Madrid have no discernible weaknesses as he prepares Arsenal for their first European semi-final since 2009.
Having won the Europa League twice in 2010 and 2012 and made the final and semi-finals of the Champions League in the last two years, Diego Simeone’s side arrive in London as the bookies’ favourites to win UEFA’s second-tier competition.
As if their continental pedigree wasn’t enough, Atletico have also made an impressive start to life in their new stadium, the Wanda Metropolitano, conceding only four goals at home in La Liga all season.
Up against such a grisly defence, the pressure is on the Gunners to make home advantage count tomorrow night. Wenger is hoping his players can deliver the goods as he goes in search of his first European title in his final season at the Emirates.
“I would say one of their strengths is that they have no obvious weakness,” he told his pre-game press conference.
“They are a very efficient team and a team who can use every weak moment of their opponent. Overall I must say that is their main strength.”
He added: “The rules in Europe make the weight of an away goal very strong. That’s why when you play the first game at home, you’re a little bit in a difficult psychological situation because you know that you have to score but as well that every goal you concede can be a huge handicap.”
On whether silverware in his final weeks in charge could act as a salve as he comes to terms with life without Arsenal, he went on: “I don’t know. At the moment I do not look after myself, I just want to do well. I want to win, I want to continue to do what I tried to do my whole life and that’s try to win the next game.
“The next game is in Europe and after Europe we go to Manchester United, and I want to try to win the game again. That’s all I did. People always keep what they want and you have to accept that.”
He added: “I want to do it for [the players], to achieve something with them because I feel they have a special mental quality.
“My biggest satisfaction would be to be successful together with the group of players that I have. I’ve seen them behave the whole season and they deserve it.””