Spanish champ Atletico Madrid on Tuesday slumped to a surprise 3-2 defeat at Olympiakos on the opening day of UEFA Champions League group play. Atleti coach Diego Simeone, who guided the Spanish champ to the competition’s final last year, blamed the loss on poor finishing, especially in the first half. Croatia international Mario Mandzukic, brought in to replace the departed Diego Costa, was particularly wasteful, although he did manage to pull one back for the visitor just before halftime with the score already 2-0 to the host.
"I thought the team attacked well," Simeone said. "Olympiakos were effective in front of goal and we were not with the chances we had. It was a difficult match, we knew that from the start." Atletico now faces the difficult prospect of needing to bounce back at home against Italian champion Juventus, which beat Swedish debutant Malmo 2-0 in the other Group A match on Tuesday, in its next UCL match on Oct. 1. "Olympiakos now have a very strong foundation to qualify and now we have the uncomfortable prospect of playing Juventus at home, who are also in a good position," Simeone admitted. "There is no need to get ahead of ourselves as there is still a long way to go in the competition.
Meanwhile, Simeone’s opposite number, Spanish coach Michel, hailed his team’s performance: "To beat a team like Atletico, you have to do a lot of things right ... We are a team like (Atletico) and do well against teams that appear to be of higher quality," the former Real Madrid player said, adding: "Now we have an advantage, to be sure. All I can say is that we are very happy — much happier than we were two hours ago."