Atletico Madrid were already out of the Champions League when they began their match in Porto, however many would have expected them to salvage a Europa League spot by matching Bayer Leverkusen’s result against Club Brugge.
As it was, they fell 2-1 to Porto and sealed a historic exit from the Champions League, finishing last in their group for the first time ever. It also means Atleti will not be playing European football in the second half of the season for the first time since 2007.
“It was difficult for us, it is difficult for us but we have to accept it and see how we can improve in Europe. We have conceded goals in almost every game. We scored few and almost all the teams were better than us. We ended up in the place we deserved. Accept reality. From there on, another phase begins tomorrow.”
He was also asked if morale was becoming a problem. Atletico Madrid have conceded at the start and end of both of their last two games.
“The emotional side comes before to everything else. You can have talent, a good game, be very good physically, but if you are not emotionally calm, with confidence, it limits you. The penalty that with Leverkusen. The match starts in Cádiz, 27 seconds. We got ourselves to 2-2 with seven minutes to go, with two important chances and on the counterattack in the 98th they made it 3-2. We start today and it happens again, five minutes later… There are many tests to overcome now. Let’s see if we have many men within the group to overcome it.”
There was only one recipe to resolving their crisis. Diego Simeone wanted his side to join together.
“Being together, being clear about what we want, getting everyone involved. Everyone. Club, people, us. That is the best way to confront [the challenge].”
Atletico Madrid now have two games remaining in La Liga before the World Cup group, facing Espanyol and Real Mallorca. It will be essential to grab six points for their morale.