Diego Simeone has rejected talk of the Europa League final being an opportunity for Atletico Madrid to banish the ghosts of Champions League heartache suffered at the hands of Real Madrid.
Atletico take on Marseille in Wednesday’s decider in Lyon, returning to the last stage of a competition they won under Simeone in 2012, having become more accustomed to the Champions League in recent years.
The Rojiblancos were beaten in the final of that tournament by arch rivals Madrid in 2014 and 2016, but Simeone gave little thought to suggestions a Europa League triumph could heal those wounds.
He told a media conference: “We are not thinking about these situations and only what happens today. What happened before gives you experience and moments.
“There is a new moment that we are waiting on. Reality will dictate if we are worthy of the title.”
Simeone will again watch from the stands after UEFA rejected his appeal against a touchline ban, with assistant coach German Burgos set to oversee things from pitch level.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) May 15, 2018
Asked if his absence will have any impact, he replied: “We lived it with Arsenal, at home, when German was [watching] over the team.
“Aside from the sadness that it gives me to not be there from the start in the final, I have a great feeling with German. We know each other for a lifetime, we have similar feelings and understanding of football.”
And Simeone anticipates a tough challenge from a Marseille side reinvigorated under Rudi Garcia, despite Atletico’s status as the clear favourites.
He said: “They can play in different ways. They have offensive full-backs. [Dimitri] Payet imposes the rhythm, it’s a team with a manager who has done really well. It will be an intense game and we will take it to where it suits us.
“We will play in a new final, where there are many feelings, emotions, belief, but above all there is humility.
“When you get here, you need to have humility, to work. We have to minimise their offensive assignments. They are a team with a lot of belief. It will be a lovely game, a beautiful final.”
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