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ESPN FC  By ESPN

Leverkusen boss backs 'sensational' Javier Hernandez ahead of Atletico clash

Bayer Leverkusen manager Roger Schmidt has hailed Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez's "sensational form" since the winter break and backed the Mexico international to begin scoring in the Champions League once again.

Bayer face Atletico Madrid in a Champions League round-of-16 first-leg tie on Tuesday with Hernandez in a purple patch that has seen him find the net five times over his past three Bundesliga matches.

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The former Chivas and Manchester United man has had difficulty scoring in Europe this season, however Schmidt hopes his fortunes will soon change.

"Chicharito is in sensational form. He's really hit the ground running after the [season] break," Schmidt said at a prematch news conference.

"He's working very hard for the team and is doing a great job of sticking away the chances that come his way.

"In games like this, it's very important to have a player who can stick the ball in the back of the net."

Chicharito has scored five goals over his past three games for Bayer Leverkusen.

Diego Simeone's men eliminated Leverkusen on penalties at the quarterfinal stage in 2015. And Schmidt says the current edition is similar to its predecessor.

"As far as I recall we were unlucky to lose to Atletico at this stage two seasons ago. They were two very tight games," Schmidt said.

"We need to make sure we make the right decisions in the final third in order to get a positive result.

"Atletico have a similar squad to two seasons ago. They have added a bit more pace and quality to their attack since then.

"They have an exceptional squad and we'll have to do very well to beat them."

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