UEFA Champions League Preview: Atletico Madrid v Austria Vienna
By Football News
Atletico Madrid can seal a place in the round of 16 with victory over Austria Vienna in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.
The La Liga high-flyers top Group G after winning their opening three matches and will enter the home fixture against their struggling opponents as red-hot favourites.
Atletico have won 11 of their 12 league fixtures this season, helping them to second place in the table, just one point behind Barcelona.
They sit five points ahead of city rivals Real Madrid, largely thanks to the form of forwards Diego Costa and David Villa.
Costa has been outstanding for Diego Simeone's side, scoring 15 goals in as many appearances in all competitions.
His latest effort - which came in Sunday's 2-0 home success against Athletic Bilbao, when Villa also scored to take his tally to seven - led Simeone to lavish him with praise.
"Diego is huge in every way," Simeone said. "On top of the goal he scored, he is growing as a player – he is more of a team player and helps us win the ball back.
"All of that makes the whole team play better. We hope he continues to grow because he's got many years ahead of him to get even better."
Costa missed the first two matches of this year's group stage due to a suspension incurred in last season's Europa League, but he scored twice in Atletico's 3-0 win at Austria Vienna last month.
Atletico have never won four consecutive matches in the Champions League and are aiming to qualify for the knockout rounds of the competition for the first time since the 2008-09 campaign.
Austria Vienna sit on the bottom of Group G with just one point from their three matches and the visitors' league form suggests an upset is highly unlikely.
Although they beat Wiener Neustadt 3-0 on Sunday in the Austrian Bundesliga, they are fifth after a dreadful run.
Head coach Nenad Bjelica – who will serve a touchline ban for the fixture – saw his side win just one of 12 matches before Sunday's triumph.
Their goalless draw against Zenit last month was the first Champions League point won by an Austrian side since 2001 and their inexperience is highlighted by the fact that just two of their players – strikers Tomas Jun and Roman Kienast – have played in Europe's premier club competition before this season.
Bjelica will be without Alexander Grunwald and Alexander Gorgon (both knee) and Marko Stankovic (muscular problem).