Simeone: "Real Madrid know that Atlético can compete with them"
Diego Simeone looked ahead to Sunday's derby against Real Madrid, and insisted that Atlético will be as competitive as ever against their city rivals.
Diego Simeone took question from reporters via video-link this afternoon to give his thoughts on tomorrow's Madrid derby at the Bernabéu. A press conference in which several names cropped up - Griezmann, Cunha, Vinicius... and El Cholo highlighted his side's great competitive spirit. That determination got his team through a testing night in Porto mid-week, to emerge from the Champions League 'group of death' through to the Last 16.
Mood in the Atlético camp ahead of the derby: “We are going to play what is always a very important game against one of our biggest rivals. They are in a great moment. With Ancelotti's return, they've tightened up a lot at the back which gives them security going forward”.
Not losing is more important to Atleti than to Real Madrid? “We always up the pressure by saying that this is like a final, that the league is over… It's always going to be competitive game. There are a lot of good teams, five or six in the top part of the table, that are doing well. We will take one game at a time as we always have”.
The right wing - Llorente versus Vinicius: “Vinicius has been playing well, he is scoring goals, he's very dynamic. We have Vrsaljko and Trippier out so we will continue with Marcos in that position. We don't have another full-back for that role at the moment”.
US viewers can tune in to watch the Madrid derby between Real Madrid and Atlético live via ESPN here
Luis Suárez: “I spoke to him after the [Porto] game, after they did all these studies on him saying that he doesn't contribute anything. Just look at how delighted he was running over to celebrate when Griezmann and Correa scored. I admire him. He's 34, and still playing after having won everything there is to win. And coming on even though he wasn't 100% because the team needed him, and celebrating with such enthusiasm. That says everything about who Suárez is. He'll be with the squad tomorrow and we will make a decision as to whether he starts or comes on later”.
Is Vinicius Madrid's most danerous player? “They've all got their own characteristics but the leading light is still Benzema and he has been during the 10 years I have been here. All of them are at a very high level. They have a lot of experience in midfield, with player who set the rhythm of the game, how high they press, who to organise the players who come into the side. Madrid have always been a very competitive team - and since we have been at Atleti, we have always been able to compete with them”.
Griezmann: “Antoine always wanted to come back and he is where he wants to be. I hope he can continue improving, growing. We need him - especially for the efforts he makes - like in our last few games. No one can take away his talent and that's what makes him strong. Talent, sacrifice, effort, knowing how to compete, the ability to play in any part of the pitch - like the other day when he had to move over to the left wing when Carrasco was sent off. What can we tell you about Antoine that he hasn't already shown. Tomorrow's game is important and I hope he can give the best he has to give during his time out on the pitch”.
Atleti haven't beaten Madrid in the derby in almost six years. Could that change tomorrow? “I don't think too much about those things. I do know that, in the last 10 games, they won four and we drew the other six. And we have always competed with Madrid. They know it - they know that they will be in for a difficult game tomorrow”.
João Félix, how will he be affected if he doesn't play? “I don't know what you mean by playing. He could play 30 minutes and be decisive or play 60 minutes and have a bad game”.
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