Diego Simeone: ‘Atletico Madrid can only focus on ourselves’

Diego Simeone has insisted to his Atletico Madrid players to focus on their own game and ‘not obsess’ with Champions League opponents Juventus.

Los Rojiblancos face the Bianconeri in a mouth-watering Champions League Round of 16 first leg in Madrid on Wednesday evening.

“I have great desire to play this game,” Simeone told a pre-match press conference.

“It’s a source of pride to play games like these against such strong teams. They help us grow.

“Going into the next round and growing as both a team and a club will give us the things we need.

“Early Final? No, it’s the last 16 and there are no trophies up for grabs tomorrow. We’re facing a strong team with some strong backing and, above all, with a Coach who has worked there for many years and with some top players.

“Having said that, we’ll try to exploit our qualities to make life difficult for them. Koke starter? He’s feeling good and he wants to play. He or Lemar can play.

“Dybala starter for Juve? Mandzukic played on the left last season, so it doesn’t mean that they’ll play with three forwards.

“They’re a great team but we have to think about ourselves. We’ll play at an extraordinary stadium that will erupt tomorrow, and we’ll have to live up to that.

“Diego Costa on the field for 90 minutes? No, he can’t do that yet. Juve? Their strength is the club.

“On a political level? No, I’m talking about football and not politics. Our strength lies in the growth we’ve made during the last 10 years.

“Juve favourites? No, no-one benefits from that tag. Cristiano Ronaldo? He made a great choice by going to an established team in Juve, but we’re thinking about our own champions.”

Atleti squad to face Juve: Adan, Oblak; Godin, Filipe Luis, Arias, Savic, Juanfran, Gimenez; Thomas, Koke, Saul, Lemar, Rodri, Vitolo; Griezmann, Kalinic, Correa, Diego Costa, Morata

Tags Diego Simeone