Diego Simeone refused to acknowledge Real Madrid as Atletico’s opponents in the Champions League semi-finals ahead of Saturday’s trip to Espanyol.
Madrid beat Atleti on penalties in last year’s Champions League final and won again two years earlier in extra time, and Simeone only stated “you have to beat the team that stand in your way, whoever they are” when asked about facing Los Blancos a third time.
“Champions League? Our motives are more than clear: there’s always the objective of being able to reach a final, and for that you have to beat the team that stand in your way. Whoever they were, our objective was going to be the same,” the Coach said at a Press conference for the trip to Cornella-El Prat.
“My feeling? I’m thinking about Espanyol. We have a very hard week, a tremendous one, for our objective of fighting for third place.
“Espanyol? We have very complex matches this week, against competitive rivals.
“Now we face Espanyol, who are similar to us and have done very well since the start of the season.
“My starting line-up? We’ll play those who are most prepared for what the game needs and can take it where we need it to be.
“Filipe is fine, Sime is making a full recovery and will be back with the team soon.
“We have alternatives, such as three at the back, Savic on the right, Koke at full-back, Gimenez … I’ll make my decisions on what I see in training.
“Quique Sanchez Flores? They played with a very good approach in the first game, giving us little chance to hurt them.
“They’re working very well as a group, with players that can create imbalances going forward.
“They’re also playing at home and with that enthusiasm of reaching Europe. They’ll be a tough team to face.
“The players have looked at the team they’ll be playing in the Champions League, but the campaign doesn’t allow you to lose focus,
“The best thing that can happen is that the teams we have this week, Espanyol, Villarreal and Las Palmas, are going to demand a lot of us.”
Espanyol (probable): Diego Lopez; Javi Lopez, Diego Reyes, David Lopez, Aaron; Jurado, Victor Sánchez, Roca, Piatti; Gerard, Caicedo
Injuries/suspensions: Alvaro Vazquez, Hernan, Oscar Duarte
Atletico Madrid (probable): Oblak; Savic, Godin, Gimenez, Filipe; Koke, Saul, Gabi, Carrasco; Griezmann, Gameiro
Injuries/suspensions: Augusto, Juanfran, Vrsajlko
Referee: Bikandi Garrido
Form guide: Espanyol (W W L W D) Atleti (W D W W W)
Previous meeting: Atleti 0-0 Espanyol
Kick-off time: 19:45 BST/20:45 CET