Simeone praises Atleti character

Diego Simeone believes the way in which Atletico Madrid responded to Chelsea going in front was crucial in their Champions League semi-final win.

Fernando Torres gave the Blues the lead last night at Stamford Bridge but Atletico equalised before half-time through Adrian, before goals from Diego Costa and Arda Turan sent Simeone’s side to a final meeting with Real Madrid.

Speaking at a post-match Press conference, Simeone said it was Adrian’s goal and Atleti’s strong start to the second-half that proved decisive.

“I’m happy. Our first goal was important and the start of the second-half was very good,” AS reports Simeone as saying.

“We understood that we had to move the ball quickly between Tiago and Mario Suarez and then to the sides so we could break their defence. At 2-1 we meant business.

“It is a beautiful, important moment, but I’m more pleased by the responsibility of reaching a final for the people who spent their money to come here.

“Everything costs a lot but we can’t stop to analyse an extreme situation, because we have to recover well to play Levante.

“The reaction of the team will remain in the memories of the people. We were against a powerful team with a long history in the Champions League and it makes me very happy.”

Simeone was asked for his thoughts on the prospect of playing Madrid on May 24 in Lisbon, and if having such a familiar opponent would work for or against Atletico.

“I don’t think it’s an advantage or a disadvantage. We’ve played them in the League and we know them,” Simeone replied.

“Real Madrid is a powerful club, accustomed to these situations. But we arrived with enthusiasm and desire after waiting many years to get to this final.

“There’s no time to think, to live the reality, we must think of Levante. We have to be thankful for the effort of the players because without them we could not experience what we are living.”

Simeone was asked if it was more important to have a strong side or a well-drilled side, but Cholo explained that it’s not a case of one or the other.

“It’s a balance. If you’re good physically but tactically wrong, you won’t succeed,” the Coach said.

“It’s not only running or being strong tactically. It’s also important for the emotional part and that’s there all the time we are experiencing this.”

Costa, scorer of the second goal, had to be withdrawn after suffering a knock and Simeone offered an update on the striker’s condition, and was also asked for his thoughts on the performance of Koke.

“Costa’s fine and Koke has grown so much,” he said.

“Every time, he dominates the ball in every match. He’s ours, he wants to be at this club and he’s got a great future ahead of him.”

Thibaut Courtois’ future was also raised after the goalkeeper, on loan at Atleti from Chelsea, made some important saves to keep out his parent club.

“We live in the present and Courtois had a great game. The directors understand that it is best for the club and for the boy.

“At one point Chelsea had to go and score. We put five in midfield and had more possession of the ball and more options for danger.”

Simeone concluded his Press conference with an unusual tribute, not to his players but to their parents.

“I also want to thank the mothers of these players because their sons have big cojones,” he said.

Tags Diego Simeone