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Football: Torres one of us, says Atletico boss Simeone

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(Globalpost/GlobalPost)

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone insisted Chelsea striker Fernando Torres will be given a hero's welcome on his first return to the Vicente Calderon as a visiting player.

Torres, who left Atletico to join Liverpool in 2007 after making over 200 appearances for the club, will be in the Chelsea squad for the Champions League semi-final first leg in the Spanish capital on Tuesday.

And Simeone is sure he will be received warmly before and after the game, even if tribal tendencies take over during the 90 minutes.

"Torres is someone who loves the club and has great memories of the club," Simeone said at his pre-match press conference on Monday.

"I think he will play tomorrow and even if the crowd are not with him for 90 minutes, before and after he will receive the ovation he deserves because he is loved by the club.

"Deep down Fernando is always one of us."

Torres' chances of starting the game have been enhanced by the absence of Samuel Eto'o in the 20-man Chelsea squad that set off for the Spanish capital on Monday morning.

The Spanish international has been heavily criticised along with fellow strikers Eto'o and Demba Ba by boss Jose Mourinho this season with the Portuguese complaining after his side's 3-1 first-leg defeat to Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals that he had no "real strikers."

Atletico's Diego Costa is therefore believed to be a top target for the Londoners this summer and Simeone understands why Chelsea are desperate to land his leading scorer.

"I think Chelsea have three strikers that are champions, who have shown hundreds of times what great talent they have in the Champions League and World Cups," he said.

"It doesn't surprise me that an economically rich club with all the opportunities in the world thinks about Diego because he is a different type of player. He is a great player and has scored many goals."

- Similar styles -

The tie has been billed as a clash between two sides with similar styles as both Atletico and Chelsea's success this season has been built upon a solid defensive base.

And Simeone thinks small margins will decide which side progresses to the final in Lisbon on May 24.

"Obviously we are not the same but we have similar characteristics. They have conceded the fewest goals in England, we have conceded the fewest goals in the Spanish league, we both have a good defence, play very direct and are very good at set-pieces.

"These are some of the similarities which make it possible for them to fight for the English league and us for the Spanish league.

"It is a semi-final so it will be very tight and decided on small details and individual qualities within the overall work of the team. The one that takes their chances will win the first leg and the tie overall."

The glaring difference between both clubs comes in the size of their respective budgets as Chelsea's income dwarves Atletico's.

However, Atletico midfielder Raul Garcia claimed they will not be overawed by Mourinho's men.

"We don't fear anyone, we are talking about football. We are a team that fights, has a lot of ambition and wants to win. We fear nothing, but we respect all our opponents."

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