Diego Simeone has expressed his “excitement” about Atletico Madrid facing “the best team in the world” Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals.
Atleti will be hoping for a repeat of their 2013-14 last-eight clash with Barca, when they won 2-1 on aggregate ahead of reaching the final, but the Catalans have won all six of their meetings with Los Colchoneros under Luis Enrique.
Nonetheless, Simeone said at a Press conference for Saturday’s La Liga trip to Sporting Gijon in response to the draw: “[Talking about trophies now] would change the idea we’ve always had.
“We only live for today, which is the game against Sporting, a rival with many needs, the support of their fans and a very good job done by both their Coach and some very young players.
“[On Karl-Heinz Rummenigge questioning Atleti’s CL pedigree], I don’t know what Bayern think of Benfica. Hopefully everything goes as they imagine.
“[Barca] are an important rival, but we’re only thinking about Sporting.
“We’ve only just learned of the draw, Barcelona are the best team in the world and what better than to play against them? It makes me very excited.
“They’re improved on set-pieces and counterattacks [under Luis Enrique], plus there’s the continuity of Neymar and Suarez’s presence. They’re a different team, with more options than before.
“[On whether their extra-time win against PSV will affect them at Sporting], we’ll continue to evaluate the players’ recovery.
“They’ll have felt 120 minutes, but hopefully we pick the best [prepared] team.
“We need the focus of all 18 players so we can take the match to where we want.
“[On concerns over their mental state], I’m of the idea that what’s in the past is in the past
“We’ll only be judged on what we do in Gijon, not what we did on Tuesday, which was very important.
“[On Wolfsburg-Real Madrid], it’s a tie which suits everyone.”