Tiago Mendes has called on Atletico Madrid to live up to their billing as favourites for Thursday’s Europa League tie by defeating Academica.
The Portuguese outfit travel out the Spanish capital this midweek for the third round of group stage action in the UEFA competition and midfielder Tiago is keen that his fellow countrymen are sent home without a point.
“Certainly we are favourites, but we shall see tomorrow on the pitch. I have the certainty that we are stronger, but we have to be for 90 minutes to win the game,” he told reporters today.
“The motivation of the team is the same, we want to win and it is true that for me it will be special to face a Portuguese team in Europe, and I wish them all the best after this game.”
Academica are coached by Pedro Emanuel, who was a regular opponent of Tiago’s on the pitch from his time in the Portuguese League almost a decade ago.
“He was a great player who won many titles with Porto. As a Coach he is doing a great job and he has a very organised team. Pedro as a person is amazing.”
If Atleti are to win then it will be without Radamel Falcao, who is again rested for the European night.
“What shall we say of Falcao? We hope that he stays with us this season as he is helping us a lot. He is a very strong player that makes this team better.”