Diego Simeone feels Atletico Madrid will be up against the best team in the world when they take on Barcelona in the Champions League quarter-finals.
The two La Liga rivals will meet in the last eight after Friday’s draw in Nyon produced a repeat of the 2013-14 tie at the same stage, which Atletico won 2-1 on aggregate.
Simeone, though, warned Barca have improved substantially since that encounter, but still spoke of his excitement ahead of the two-legged clash.
“We have seen the draw and they are an important rival, the best in the world, surely,” he said.
“I’m really excited about it. What better incentive for us than to play against the best team in the world?
“But right now we are thinking of the Sporting [Gijon] game [on Saturday].”
Asked about the repeat of the tie from two seasons ago, Simeone said: “They are another team, a different team and they have more options.
“They manage dead balls better, they are better on the counter, they have had the continuity of Neymar for the last two years, the presence of [Luis] Suarez and a better bench.”
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Atletico director Clemente Villaverde believes the tie is too close to call, with his team having proven they can compete with the best.
“Luck has decided that our opponents be Barcelona and we will take it,” he said.
“You have to fight against Barca. The tie is 50-50 because we have shown how strong we are in the Liga. We should do what we know.
“All opponents are hard and you have to respect them all immensely. We just have to do our thing.”
The teams hold the top two spots in La Liga, with Barca eight points clear at the summit.
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