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HUGHTON EXPECTING INTENSE ATLETICO MEETING

4 August 2017

Paul Hazlewood
Albion manager Chris Hughton.

Brighton & Hove Albion manager Chris Hughton expects his players to be part of an intense game when Atletico Madrid visit the Amex tomorrow, as the Seagulls finish off their pre-season campaign against the La Liga giants.

The 2014 and 2016 Champions League finalists visit the south coast before next Saturday’s Premier League opener against Manchester City, and Hughton is pleased to be welcoming a team of such high quality.

He said, “As opposition goes, it’s real top-level opposition. Every game is an intense game for them, that’s the way they are. If anything, some aspects of their game are very British.

“Generally 4-4-2; they work very hard shifting the team, but they’ve got really good quality and can go from defence to attack very quickly because of the quality they have got.

“We have the pleasure of watching Atletico Madrid playing Champions League football, and no matter what level you’re playing at, they’re the games that you watch.

“We’re a newly-promoted team to the division and we know it’s going to be a tough one for us, but it’s a challenge that we have to very much look forward to, and make sure that we give it our best.”

The Seagulls are yet to taste defeat during pre-season, most recently drawing 0-0 with La Liga newcomers Girona, and Hughton assessed the current condition of his first-team squad.

“You’d like to think that once you’ve got to this stage of pre-season, that your fitness levels are where you want them to be.

“We’re certainly fortunate on the injury front; Anthony Knockaert will be close to the start of the season, Sam Baldock trained on Friday, and at this moment, they would be our only two.

“We’re playing against a top team here on Sunday, so we’ll certainly have to make sure we’re resilient and defend well, because that’s going to be a key to any success that we have this season.

“We’ll have to take advantage of playing here at the Amex, and we’ll have to show the quality that we’ve got in the squad.

Hughton has been delighted with the arrivals of new signings Pascal Gross, Mathew Ryan, Markus Suttner and Izzy Brown, but the Albion boss is still keen to improve his squad before the transfer window closes.

“This is a squad that faired very well in the Championship last season, but we’re also very conscious that, if anything, the quality in the Premier League has got even greater.

“There are clubs that would be seen as middle-of-the-table clubs in the Premier League, and they’ve looked to improve and invest as well.

“If we want to give ourselves the best possible opportunity [of staying up], we need to do the same. Am I happy with what I’ve got? Yes. But as all managers do, I always want better.”


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