Atletico Madrid coach, Diego Simeone, has heaped praises on his player’s performance after they eliminated their rivals, Barcelona, from the Champions League on Wednesday.
An early goal by Koke guided Atletico the way into their first semi-final of Europe’s elite competition in 40 years after they beat Barcelona 2-1 on aggregate.
Simeone’s side could have killed the tie within the first 20 minutes when they hit the woodwork three times, but then Barcelona came better into the game.
“There's a lot of joy at having got through a tie against great rivals who have a proud history,” Simeone said.
“Now we are calm because we know this isn't the end, and we will try to recover as soon as possible because on Sunday we have another match.
“The first 20 minutes were very good in terms of our attitude, intensity and play. Then Barça began to get into the game and had some opportunities, so things became trickier for us.”
The Atletico coach hailed the desire of his players and had special praises for Diego Costa replacement, Adrian Lopez.
“My players don't need words to motivate them – they need security, decisiveness and the ability to try and get the best out of them all,” the Argentine added.
“I admire these players. I admire their dedication and the way they work together as a team.
“Adrian (López) was great in the first half – he almost scored and he linked up perfectly with Koke and David Villa. Aside from getting through the tie, I'm happy that Adrián is back to his best. I repeat: Adrian is a different player now and one that can give us alternatives.”
Over the past six years, the team that eliminated Barcelona from the Champions League went on to win the competition.
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