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The former Biancocelesti favourite is expected to get a warm welcome from the Stadio Olimpico, but he is expecting a rough ride on the field for the Rojiblancos

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone believes that his players will be up against it when they face Lazio in the first leg of their Europa League last 32 tie in Rome on Thursday evening.

The former Biancocelesti favourite is expected to get a warm welcome from the Stadio Olimpico but he is expecting a rough ride on the field for his Rojiblancos.

"I have great memories [of Lazio]," Simeone is quoted as saying by AS ahead of his return to the Italian capital. "We became champions for only the second time in the club's history [2000].

"The [current] team is doing well with a coach [Edy Reja] who has long been familiar with the city and the club. It's going to be a tough match.

"They are doing well in the Italian league and I imagine they'll want to do the same in the Europa League."

However, Atletico are undefeated since Simeone returned to the Vicente Calderon during the winter break and have yet to concede a goal during his six-game tenure.

The former midfield ace is not getting carried away but he admitted that things are going well.

"To come back to Atletico was something I desired," he explained. "It was in my dreams and I believed it could happen.

"It came at an unexpected time. But I could not but say yes to Atletico, although the timing is not ideal in footballing terms. But I hope to turn the situation around.

"This is a great challenge. We are working well and the players responded immediately. There is a good camaraderie among the players and long may it continue in this way."

Atletico have risen to sixth place in La Liga under Simeone and are now just one point off a Champions League place.

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