Diego Simeone has told his Atletico Madrid side to forget last season’s UEFA Champions League final defeat to Real Madrid before the city rivals do battle in Tuesday’s quarter-final first leg.
Atletico were heading for a first Champions League title in the 2013-14 showpiece in Lisbon until Sergio Ramos headed home an injury-time leveller that set Real on their way to a 4-1 extra-time victory.
Unsurprisingly, Atleti head coach Simeone was asked about that defeat in his pre-match news conference on Monday, but the Argentinian wants his team to focus on achieving something special this season.
“That [comparisons to last season’s final] is normal, for both sides,” he said.
“[But] we need to focus on what is going to happen tomorrow. What happened in the past is over. We have a great chance to do something important tomorrow.”
Real coach Carlo Ancelotti paid tribute to Simeone in his media briefing, describing him as “one of the best coaches in the world”.
Simeone, who confirmed that Mario Mandzukic will start after missing Atleti’s last two matches with an ankle injury, repaid the compliment and is looking forward to taking on his opposite number.
“I have a great deal of admiration for him as a person, a respected man who sticks to his principals through victory and defeat and this makes him different,” he added. “Carlo is one of the best in the game and I’m proud to take him on.”
Atleti are unbeaten in six meetings with Real this season – winning four and drawing two.