Access exclusive podcasts, interviews and analysis with a monthly or annual membership

Become A Member
Dublin: 7°C Tuesday 9 March 2021

Champions League final preview: Atletico Madrid players think Diego Simeone is 'God'

Portuguese midfielder Tiago says himself and his teammates could not think any more highly of their manager.

Simeone has already steered Atletico to a La Liga title.
Simeone has already steered Atletico to a La Liga title.

AS ATLETICO MADRID stand on the brink of a modern football miracle, Tiago made sure to emphasise the point.

Diego Simeone, according to the Portuguese midfielder, is “God”. Tiago put everything this season has brought, from an improbable league title to this hugely impressive surge to the Champions League final, down to the alchemy of their Argentine manager.

“It’s difficult to speak with him here but I think, for us, for all the club, he’s like a God for us,” Tiago said.

“He arrived at the club and changed everything. What he says comes true. If he asks us to jump from a bridge, we jump. I think he knows a lot of football. We as a group follow whatever he says, and we’re very proud to have him as a coach.”

Yet, if Simeone is looking to take Atletico to heaven, Real Madrid are hoping to reach heights never before seen in the Champions League.

They are aiming for that historic 10th trophy.

Sergio Ramos described it as a unique opportunity, while Iker Casillas talked about how he was finally able put a game with such stakes into its correct context.

“If you win, the memory is infinite. That goes through your head. I’ve had the luck to play in such matches and, as you get older, you get more conscious of the happiness you give millions of people.”

Carlo Ancelotti acknowledged that the team had to make the important distinction between an “obsession and a dream”.

“It depends what you think. I agree with you, it’s very close the line, between the obsession and dream. It depends on your thought. For me, it’s a dream. Try to reach the dream.

“We began the season thinking of this objective, to reach this final, to win la Decima,” Ancelotti said. “For all Madridistas, it is a special day”

“Everybody knows how important this competition is for Real Madrid. My job is to do the best. I said this from the first day, to help the team win this competition.”

In order to do that, Real will need their top players on form. Injury doubts remained over all of Cristiano Ronaldo, Pepe and Karim Benzema.

“Cristiano and [Gareth] Bale have no problems. Pepe and Benzema have not trained this week. Today they’ll begin session with others, then we will take decision for tomorrow.”

Simeone has similar decisions.

“We will look at Diego and Arda [Turan] in training today, and see how they feel. We will talk with them tonight and see what the team needs.”

Tiago, meanwhile, stressed the need for Atletico to keep doing what they’re doing.

“We are very confident because we have a strong identity,” Tiago said. “This team has shown, throughout the whole season, that we know what to do in every game. I don’t think that will change tomorrow. We’ll be the same Atletico, very strong.”

Former Arsenal striker Ian Wright is now a half decent GAA pundit>

Patrice Evra signs new one-year contract with United>

Read next: