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Liga BBVA | ATLÉTICO MADRID

Simeone: "La Liga is in the fans' hearts"

Asked if it was difficult concentrating on the league with the Copa del Rey game coming up on Wednesday, Simeone replied: "You have to give the league the respect it deserves. Espanyol won't allow us to change our focus."

Simeone: "La Liga is in the fans' hearts"

'El Cholo' Simeone spoke to the media in a pre-match conference ahead of Sunday's game against Espanyol, and stressed that in the game against former Atlético coach Javier Aguirre's side they wouldn't have one eye on the cup game against Sevilla. He also spoke about being knocked out of Europe.

Asked about 'los pericos', he said: "Espanyol have grown since Aguirre arrived; he's given the team character and players like Simao, Sergio, Stuani and Verdú are all improving. They're a dangerous side and we'll need to make sure we don't lose our concentration."

In terms of whether they would be focusing on the league when there is such an important cup game coming up on Wednesday, Simone said: "Fans always look at how their team is doing in the league. We can't afford to play with people's feelings; if the team is 14th the fans get angry, and if it's third or fourth they're happy. The league is in the fans' hearts."

He also added: "You have to give the league the respect it deserves. Espanyol won't allow us to change our focus."

Asked about the hangover following the Europa League defeat, he said: "The atmosphere in the dressing room is fine, though losing is not good. In the first half of the first leg the team did all it could. I'm satisfied that we were competitive, and in general that's what we want."

He also went on to talk about the return leg: "As a coach I made the decision to field a team that demonstrated it could win and progress. After that, everyone has their own assessment."

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