Madrid, Sep 17 (IANS) Atletico Madrid look in top shape ahead of their Champions League football debut Wednesday night.
Diego Pablo Simeone's side go into the match against Zenit St. Petersburg with a 100 percent record in the start to their BBVA Primera Liga campaign and sit proudly alongside Barcelona with 12 points from four matches, reports Xinhua.
The 14 goals Atletico have scored in those four matches is the most productive start to a campaign since the 1955-56 season. That was so long ago, Atletico were still playing in their former Metropolitan Stadium, and it is a measure of how times change, that the club is now preparing to abandon its current home, the Vicente Calderon to move to the Peineta (Olympic) Stadium in 2016.
Last Saturday saw Atletico brush past a recently promoted Almeria 4-2 with goals from David Villa, Diego Costa, Thiago and Raul Garcia and the final result was actually less flattering for Atletico than it deserved to be as they were superior in all areas.
Simeone will be without one of the architects of the weekend win as Diego Costa is suspended after being sent off in a Europa League game last season. Costa may play on the limit of what is acceptable on a football field, but the fact is that he is a constant threat with his ability to hold up the ball, take on rivals and provoke reactions from rival defenders.
Either Adrian Lopez or Leo Baptistao will take Costa's place in the starting 11 while Joao Miranda should have recovered to partner Godin in the centre of the Atletico defense.
It will be a special match for their goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, who will make his long awaited Champions League debut. The young Belgian, who is on this third season on loan from Chelsea, has been one of Atletico's key players during that time and has already helped his side conquer the Europa League, the European Supercup and the Spanish Copa del Rey, but admits this is special.
"I didn't imagine that I would win so many titles in such a short time. You always hope to win something when you sign for a club like Atletico, but I didn't expect it to happen so fast," he admitted, before highlighting the ambition at the club.
"We always want to try and win more, but at the same time we know we have to try and remain humble," he said.
"I have come a long way and I hope to continue improving at the club," added Courtois.