Juanfran: Atleti strong without Falcao

Radamel Falcao won't feature for Atletico Madrid against Hapoel Tel-Aviv, but Juanfran insists the squad is good enough to cope.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone has left the Colombian hitman at home along with Arda Turan, Diego Godin, Filipe Luis and Gabi, as the holders begin their defence of the Europa League trophy in Israel on Thursday evening.

In addition, Tiago Mendes is missing as he completes a three game ban from European competition, but youngsters Pedro Martin, Javier Manquillo and Saul Niguez are all named in a 18-man party.

“The squad is of a good size, the biggest and best it has been in my time here,” Juanfran told AS today. “The club has made a real push to build a good squad and whatever team the Coach puts out will be competitive.

“The Coach has spoken to us about how Hapoel play, about their ground and about how they see the game. We are prepared and we are all hoping to start with a win.”

The Spanish international, who reinvented himself as a right-back following the arrival of Simeone at the Vicente Calderon last season, also said that there is no reason to dwell on the closing stages of their victory against Rayo Vallecano on Sunday, when the Rojiblancos almost threw away a four-goal lead before hanging on to win 4-3.

“We don't need to attach any more importance to it. There were 10 minutes where we didn't play well and where they gave us a fright.

“It would have been a disaster had the game ended in a draw, but we got the three points and the team was fine. Let's hope it doesn't happen again,” the 27-year-old concluded.

Tags Falcao Hapoel Tel Aviv Juanfran