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Reloaded Atletico face Galatasaray test in Champions League

Reloaded Atletico face Galatasaray test in Champions League

Atletico Madrid invested heavily in new players this summer with the aim of contending for a Champions League title that they were seconds away from winning two years ago.

Madrid: Atletico Madrid invested heavily in new players this summer with the aim of contending for a Champions League title that they were seconds away from winning two years ago.

The new-look attack will get its first test of the European campaign on Tuesday when the 2014 finalist travels to Turkey to face Galatasaray.

Diego Simeone will hope his team can shake off its first loss of the season when it fell 2-1 to Barcelona on Saturday, and recover its winning form for the first two rounds that included an impressive 3-0 victory at Sevilla.

Atletico's coach is opting for a "cautious" approach for the Champions League opener in Turkey before a second Group C match against Benfica, which he called their "strongest opponent."

"We are of the school that you only focus on tomorrow's game," Simeone said on Monday. "It seems to be risky to talk about us being favorites playing away against a crowd of 55,000 and a motivated opponent."

Benfica hosts newcomer Astana in the group's other match.

Here are some things to know about Tuesday's Group C matches:

ATLETICO ALL IN

Atletico was agonizingly close to winning the Champions League Cup in 2014, when Real Madrid equalized in stoppage time before winning the final 4-1 in extra time.

And after Atletico fell to Madrid in last year's quarterfinals before Barcelona dethroned it as Spanish league champions, the club responded by making its first major overhaul of its squad since Simeone's arrival midway through the 2011-12 season.

The club sold several players, including Arda Turan, Miranda and Raul Garcia, who had proved critical to its winning run of 2014 Spanish league, 2013 Copa del Rey and 2012 Europa League titles.

Striker Mario Mandzukic also left, making way for a spending spree of a reported 140 million euros ($160 million) to bring in Colombia striker Jackson Martinez, and forwards Luciano Vietto and Yannick Carrasco, among others.

Simeone has given starts to both Jackson and veteran Fernando Torres, while France forward Antoine Griezmann is blossoming into one of Europe's finest talents.

"The club is growing," said Simeone. "I hope we can get all our new players involved as soon as possible. The Spanish league is a long competition and we hope the Champions League will be long as well."

RECENT RESULTS

Galatasaray will be looking to break a recent run of poor results in Europe, as well as Atletico's strong form.

The defending Turkish champions, who count on veterans Wesley Sneijder, Lukas Podolski, and Burak Yilmaz in attack, are without a win in their last eight matches in European competition.

Atletico, meanwhile, has only lost once in 12 meetings with Turkish teams.

"Our aim is to move the ball quickly in our opponents' half and to keep up the pressure," Galatasaray coach Hamza Hamzaoglu said on Monday. "That's why we create a lot of chances and give a few chances away too. If keep playing like this, we are sure that we'll get good results."

first published:September 15, 2015, 09:29 IST