CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

Simeone: "Winning isn't important - it's the only thing there is"

Atlético Madrid knocked out holders Liverpool in the last round but Diego Simeone conceded it will count for little against RB Leipzig.

Simeone: Liverpool victory counts for nothing against RB Leipzig

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Diego Simeone says Atlético Madrid's famous victory over Liverpool in the last round will count for nothing if they don't follow it up with another win against RB Leipzig for a place in the Champions League semi-finals. The Spanish side knocked out the holders with an exhilarating 4-2 aggregate victory after extra-time in the last round and have been handed a favourable tie against last-eight debutants Leipzig. However, five months have passed since the second-leg triumph at Anfield and Simeone insists that match will have little relevance on what happens in Lisbon on Thursday.

"That win is not a reference for us now, it was a long time ago - months have gone past and the enthusiasm died down during the 100 or so days we spent in our homes during quarantine," he said at a news conference on Wednesday. "The Liverpool game was a long time ago, it was a great moment and will remain a part of our history and was very important for Atlético Madrid, but a new path begins for us tomorrow night."

Leipzig, led by impressive young coach Julian Nagelsmann, finished third in the Bundesliga this term and saw off Tottenham 4-0 in the last 16 of the Champions League. Nagelsmann said on Tuesday he is eager to avoid a touchline confrontation with fiery Simeone but the Atleti boss chose not to directly reply to those comments.

In football, only winning counts - Simeone

"I do not respond to opinions of colleagues. I have nothing to say," he said. "Tomorrow we play a very important game, against a young coach who is doing a fantastic job. They play very well and try to get the ball forward. They're a great team and the numbers show it. They finished third in Germany and have won the same number of games as us. I have a lot of respect for them and know that it winning is not just important but the only thing that there is."

Forward Ángel Correa and defender Sime Vrsaljko are not part of Atleti's squad for the one-legged tie with Leipzig after returning positive coronavirus tests. But while Simeone is ruing the loss of a couple of players, he has his eyes firmly set on a third final appearance in six years with Atlético.

"Angel is important to us and being without Sime, who has fought hard to be back, also hurts,"  he said. "We have lost two very important men from the heart of the squad, but we hope to have them later and we have to move on. We have to adapt to the circumstances."