Raul Jimenez has compared life with Benfica to his one season at Atletico Madrid. ‘Here they are giving me a chance…’
The Mexico striker will face his former club in the Champions League on Tuesday and spoke to Marca in advance of the reunion.
“It’s better [from a sporting point of view] here. I’m getting what I was looking for. Here, they are giving me a chance, minutes, and I’m satisfied with my performances,” Jimenez said.
“I realised recently I was close to passing my minutes for last season already. And I’ve been able to score a few goals and I hope everything stays this way.
“[I needed] he vote of confidence from my Coach and my teammates. I had it in some form at Atletico, but it’s greater here and I am very thankful.”
Jimenez elaborated on his feelings regarding Atletico, and was philosophical over the failed venture, having left Club America for Vicente Calderon.
“No one told me it would be easy. European football is like that. Cholo decided whether or not to play me, but I always worked to my maximum in training,” he acknowledged.
“These are the decisions the Coach has to take and the player must accept them in the best way. I learned a lot every day and I’ll take that.
“I left Mexico with the hope of playing and it was hard at first. I never let it affect me and tried to train hard for my benefit, to keep growing as a player and to keep giving my best.
“I’ll always be grateful to Atletico for bringing me to Europe. They noticed me and had confidence in me, so I’m grateful to the club.
“Now I’m at Benfica I’m thankful to them for thinking of me even though I didn’t have a good season at Atletico.”
It was put to Jimenez that there are a few players in the Benfica squad with unhappy spells at Atletico behind them, including Eduardo Salvio and Pizzi, but he dismissed the idea revenge is a motivating factor.
“We have to play well for ourselves, for the good of the team. I don’t think we have anything to prove to anyone,” he explained.
“We have to think about winning and being top of the group to avoid tough opponents in the next round.”
Jimenez also rejected the notion that Atletico will be bothered by returning to Lisbon, scene of their defeat to Real Madrid in the 2014 Champions League final.
“That’s history and it’s been left behind. I don’t think anyone will be carried away by that. Now they want to win here,” he countered.