Diego Simeone believes the Copa del Rey is increasing in value in Spain, as he considers Atletico Madrid’s preparation for their defence of it this weekend.
Last year’s competition winners enter the Round of 32 on Saturday with a trip to Sant Andreu for a first leg clash, with their Coach asked to consider today if they are favourites to once more lift the trophy.
“There is always Real Madrid and Barcelona,” responded Simeone to reporters today.
“Then, the Cup is a competition that is becoming more respected and that people are enthusiastic for.
“There are fewer games, but they are there and you have to go out there to win.
“Since I have been here as Coach we have had a clear idea of being competitive in everything we play for. We aspire to that.
“It is necessary to prepare the best team possible to resolve the match in the best way. We will face a team that is eager to demonstrate itself and we will have to respond with intensity.
“The plastic pitch? Football is football. With the sun, the mud, the synthetic grass…these are unexpected situation that we need to resolve.
“It is not natural grass and we will have to assess the speed of the ball. The width of the pitch is less and we will have to watch the set-plays as there will be many people in a small space.”
Simeone was asked if he sees the Cup games as an opportunity for some of the squad’s outside players to prove themselves.
“The word ‘opportunity’ I do not like, because it seems they are going out there to play in order to please. It is a situation of what the team needs and they have to perform.
“Diego Costa began playing last year in the Europa League and scored twice and from there he grew and began to play many more game.
“Each player needs to understand that minutes are important, they are not simply situations to please anyone.
“The team needs to win and those selected must show what the whole team shows and so far this is what they have done.”