Diego Simeone insists the Champions League Final with Real Madrid is about ‘opportunities’ for Atletico Madrid, not ‘revenge’ for 2014.
Atleti were beaten in extra time in Lisbon two years ago and meet their city rivals in Milan in search of a first-ever European Cup, and Simeone told UEFA’s website that the events of two years ago aren’t relevant.
“There is no such thing as revenge in football, or in life for that matter, just new opportunities. 'Revenge' is a negative word, because it harks back to a defeat; on the other hand, 'opportunity' is about optimism, confidence and what's to come, and that's what we want to show in the Champions League,” he said.
“We've already played two of the top three teams in the world and now we're facing the third in the final. Madrid are different to Barcelona and Bayern Munich; they're a much more direct team who are a massive threat from set pieces.
“They're very strong defensively, particularly Pepe, [Raphael] Varane and [Sergio] Ramos, and Casemiro has added balance to a team who have a lot of firepower. We'll be ready and will look to play the game on our terms. Fingers crossed, that will be enough for us to do what we want, which is to win.
“I think talk is cheap – when I hear people say what they'd like to happen, I think it's empty. You have to live in the present. Of course we'll prepare ourselves to win. It won't come down to what I want; it'll come down to how much effort we put in.”
Simeone added that this generation of his side should be fresher than the 2014 vintage, as that team had just come off a close – but successful – title fight with Barcelona.
“That 2014 team went into the final six days after a title decider, and with two of our most important players, Arda [Turan] and [Diego] Costa, carrying injuries,” he recalled.
“It was also perhaps a more mature squad, with the likes of [David] Villa, Raul García, Diego Ribas, [Jose] Sosa and Mario Suarez.
“This squad is different because it's full of young players who are going through all this for the first time and will undoubtedly come out much more mature for the experience.”