Diego Simeone faced the international press on Monday evening as part of the media day which is staged in accordance with UEFA ahead of this weekend’s Champions League final. The coach refused to definitively rule out Diego Costa, who is nursing a Grade I hamstring injury, from Saturday’s final.
Diego Costa: “This is only the start of the week and there are still a few days to go until the final; we’re not going to get ahead of ourselves and say anything – I think it’s far too early to do something like that ahead of such an important game. Having said that, we need all of our players in the best conditions possible”.
What would you prefer – that Diego Costa plays or Cristiano doesn’t play? “We’re only concerned about ourselves. We will wait and see how Diego and Arda progress; we’ll assess them again at the end of the week and consider what alternatives are open to us if they fail to recover. At the same time, we’ll be waiting to see how Madrid’s players recover”.
Victory in Lisbon could signal the start of a new empire? “All we want is for the players to work well over the course of these next few days; we are focusing on our objective”.
Tiago: “I spoke to Tiago on Sunday and also last week. He is in peak form, he’s strong and he’s just as important to the team as he is within the dressing room”.
Odds on the final: “Percentagewise, we have a 50 per cent chance. Individually, Real Madrid have better players. We have the motivation while they have a strong desire to win their tenth trophy. That’s not to say that we don’t have the same desire. How the match pans out in midfield could be the determining factor”.
What did you say to your players when the team was 1-0 down at Barcelona? “I just told them that they were doing well, that they were playing better than Barça and that if we could grab a goal, that the game would end level at 1-1. It was one of our best starts to any game and later, we took the game to where we wanted”.
How will you motivate the players ahead of the final? “The only motivation they need is pulling on this club’s shirt. Playing for Atlético de Madrid is motivation in itself – whoever the team we face might be. Motivation is internal and if it isn’t, then it is very difficult to gain results. Being in a final is motivating for us. We need to take a hard look at ourselves and prepare well; we need to distance ourselves from what thoughts might be going through our minds”.