Simeone: Real Madrid a great rival

The Argentine says the Rojiblancos’ Champions League quarter-final with their city rivals will be “a great tie” but he only wants to think about Saturday’s game with Getafe

Diego Simeone wants to remain concentrated on Atletico Madrid’s Liga campaign despite being fully aware that the media will spend the next three weeks talking up the significance of their Champions League quarter-final with Real Madrid.

The Rojiblancos were paired with their city rivals in Friday’s draw in Nyon in what will be a repeat of last season’s final, which Los Blancos won 4-1 after extra-time to claim their 10th European title.

Atletico have since beaten Madrid in the Supercopa de Espana, the Copa del Rey and home and away in the Primera Division this season.

They now have an opportunity to exact further revenge in the Champions League but Simeone says his sole concern at the moment is ensuring that Atleti, who sit fourth in La Liga, defeat Getafe at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday.

“Real are a great rival, just like the other seven at this stage of the Champions League,” he told reporters on Friday. “So it’s a great tie ahead.
“But, in truth, my mind is thinking only about Getafe. There will be time to think about that, there are three weeks I think, almost a month, for you [the media] to have fun talking about everything that a game of that magnitude represents.”

Atletico progressed to the quarter-finals by defeating Bayer Leverkusen on penalties, with Tuesday’s win ending a run of four games without a victory in all competitions.

Simeone acknowledges that the capital club are still struggling to score goals, but he is adamant that they are slowly getting back to their best.
“We are growing,” he added. “Without doubt. We are much stronger in terms of the structure of the team, much more solid. 

“It’s true that we have been scoring less than before, but we have improved in terms of intensity and we are more compact as a unit.

“Fernando Torres, Raul Jimenez, Mario Mandzukic, Antoine Griezmann – we have a lot of faith in them and we know they will pop up for us in the important moments. 

“We are now in a defining moment and let’s hope Torres, Jimenez and Griezmann, who are the ones we have available, can deliver goals because that is what we need from them.”

An Atletico win would enable them to shorten the gap on either Barcelona or Real, or both, with La Liga’s top two set to square off at Camp Nou on Sunday.

However, Simeone says he has little interest in what unfolds in the Clasico in Catalunya.

“I want to win against Getafe in order to stay in touch with the important position we are in,” he stated. “After that, I am not really interested in the Clasico.”

With Manchester City having been eliminated from the Champions League earlier this week, Simeone is being talked up as a potential replacement at the Etihad for the under-fire Manuel Pellegrini.

However, the Argentine says he is paying no attention to the speculation surrounding his future at the Calderon.

“I live above and beyond contracts and future renewals,” he added. “I live day to day. 

“Everybody else can talk about those situations, but I am stronger and get more energy from what I experience and what I feel in every game and every training session. And that’s helped us get to where we are today.”

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