Diego Simeone spoke to the press about Atlético Madrid’s Europa League semi-final tie with Arsenal, the upcoming LaLiga clash with Levante at the Wanda Metropolitano, and the future of goalkeeper Jan Oblak.
Costa and Lucas back soon
How do the injuries picked up in the Europa League affect you?
The feeling we’ve got is a positive one, and we’re optimistic because Lucas will be available tomorrow and Costa’s issue is minor. We could have him back with us soon. We’ve lost Thomas through suspension, but we’re looking at the positives in the situation. Everything indicates that they’ll be back with us soon.
How are you going to manage with five matches in 15 days?
We’ve always done it when we’ve been close to a final. The excitement rises in the players and the excitement to compete is there. We’ll spread out the effort with winning in mind, and that’s what the competition will give us.
What do you think of the draw against Arsenal?
In terms of history, they’re probably the strongest opponent. They’ve got a lot of history in Europe, a really important coach, very capable, and footballers who play well. It’s a 50/50 tie.
Oblak 'best in the world'
How important is Jan Oblak?
Atleti act accordingly to keep the most important players at the club. Jan is the best in the world at the moment. I hope he stays and that we can get the sporting side across to him, to keep growing as a team and a club. I hope he stays happy and keeps on growing like he is today. All of the teams who are winning things are doing so because they have great goalkeepers.
Has this been your most difficult season at Atlético?
This might have been the season where I’ve learnt the most about being a coach, about improving, trying to improve, amid a load of circumstances that affect every situation.
And I want to say that Levante, with their new coach, are doing really well at the moment. They’ve got some important results and they’re close to safety. We need to win. If we win, we’ll confirm a place in the Champions League next season. It’s a family day at Atlético tomorrow and we’ll all be there together, united, pushing the team on.
With Diego Costa injured, who will partner Griezmann?
I’ll tell you tomorrow.