The Colchoneros will again face their fierce rivals in Europe’s premier club competition, but their manager insists it does not matter who they face
Diego Simeone insists Atletico Madrid are not obsessed with a Champions League revenge mission against Real Madrid as his focus remains on facing Espanyol in La Liga on Saturday.
Atleti have been defeated by their rivals in each of their last three European campaigns, twice in the final, and the sides were again paired together in Friday’s last-four draw.
But with his side still fighting to secure a top-three league position and automatic qualification for the Champions League next season, Simeone is adamant he cannot look too far ahead, while his team will not be distracted by the identity of their semi-final opponents.
“The goal is to reach the final and, for this, you have to beat the opponent you play,” he told a pre-match news conference ahead of playing Espanyol. “Whoever the rival, it would be the same goal and the same reason to win.
“I’m thinking of Espanyol, it’s a tremendous week to look for third place. I do not think of anything else.
“The players have looked at the rival we will play in the Champions League, but the league does not allow you to be distracted.”
Atleti are three points clear of fourth-placed Sevilla heading into the weekend, but Simeone expects a tough test against Espanyol, who have won their last four home games.
“It will be a very complex game against Espanyol, a rival in good form,” he added. “This game will demand a lot.”