Wednesday preview

Atletico fret about silent stadium for PSV

November 25, 2008

Atletico Madrid are worried about the effect a silent 55,000-seat Vicente Calderon might have on the team when they play PSV Eindhoven in the Champions League on Wednesday.

UEFA has ordered the Group D clash to be played behind closed doors as a punishment for the crowd problems that marred Atletico's 2-1 victory over Olympique Marseille at their ground at the beginning of October.

Javier Aguirre's unbeaten side, who failed in their bid to have the punishment overturned, lead the group on goal difference from Liverpool with eight points from four games and can assure their progress to the next stage with a victory.

A draw against the Dutch champions would suffice if Liverpool avoid defeat at home to Marseille.

"(To play without any fans) is the worst punishment a player can suffer," Atletico's Colombia defender Luis Perea told a news conference on Monday.

"I would prefer to have the whole stadium against us because that's what gets the adrenaline going and makes you feel like a real footballer. It's going to be very strange."

Perea gave away a 94th-minute penalty at Numancia on Sunday and Atletico were held to a 1-1 draw in the Primera Liga.

It was the third stoppage-time penalty they have conceded in five weeks -- the last being the one awarded to Liverpool in the 1-1 draw at Anfield in their previous group match.

Despite these setbacks, Atletico are unbeaten in nine in all competitions.

Injured full back Antonio Lopez is the only player unavailable to coach Aguirre, who is likely to stick closely to the side that played on Sunday.

For the visitors the switch in system they made after losing four matches in a row worked in the Dutch league and could be risky in Europe, but they have to go for broke.

After using the 4-2-3-1 system of the Dutch national team, coach Huub Stevens posted Danny Koevermans and Danko Lazovic up front with success.

Both strikers urged their coach to make the change to break their slump in form, although Koevermans admitted that it would be different in the Champions League.

"I don't know if we'll start like this against Atletico," the striker was quoted as saying in Algemeen Dagblad newspaper.

"We played with two strikers and four midfielders, who closed in and that might be too much in international football.

"We'll have to stay calm against Atletico and prove that this system suits us best."

PSV, bottom of Group D with three points. lost 3-0 at home to Atletico in September.