Atlético coach Diego Simeone, fresh after having led los Colchoneros to the final of the Europa League with their 11th straight victory in the UEFA tournament, spoke proudly of the squad following their 1-0 shutout of Valencia at the Mestalla on Thursday.
“I am very happy, mainly for the players, who have made an enormous effort,” ‘El Cholo’ was quoted as saying by UEFA.com.
“What they do is heroic. Playing on Sunday, on Thursday and then on Sunday again for almost two months with a small squad. We also had some injuries to important players such as Antonio López and Silvio, who have barely been able to help us.
“Also, I am happy for the board, who have trusted us to lead this group, which was well built from the beginning. Obviously, I am delighted for all the Atlético fans because today they are proud to support this team.”
The Rojiblanco legend, who is one match away from lifting his third title with Atleti – this time as a coach – then proceeded to give his assessment of the clash against los Che.
“We started well in the first seven or eight minutes, but we knew they could hurt us between the lines with [Sergio] Canales,” he said.
“They played very well for a part of the game and were able to play the way they normally do here at Mestalla. However, with a tactical change we started to win the ball back and restrict them in the area behind Mario Suárez and Tiago.
“In the second half we had no scares, we knew that eventually they were going to leave more spaces and then Adrián [López] came up with his goal to settle the tie.”
Simeone then looked ahead at the final in Bucharest set to take place on the 9th of May, a match in which he will face off against Argentine compatriot Marcelo Bielsa, whose Athletic Bilbao side saw off Sporting Lisbon at the San Mamés Thursday.
“Athletic are having a superb tournament,” said Simeone.
“They are going to play in the final of the Copa del Rey and will now also play in the Europa League final. I can only congratulate them. I know Marcelo Bielsa well and also the people who work with him. It will be a nice final between friends but we want to win.
“I am very proud to be back at Atlético and I feel a lot of responsibility. Today Atletico people will go to bed very happy.”
Adrián: “I struck it with all my might and it went in”
Adrián, who scored the game’s lone goal – a scorcher that sealed our passage through to the final – spoke to Spanish television station Telecinco on the field after the final whistle had blown, AS reports.
The Asturian forward, who with his strike became the first Spaniard ever to score 11 goals in a single European tournament reports Spanish football statistics guru Mister Chip, said he was “super happy”.
The 24-year-old was then asked about his goal, explaining the whole play as follows:
“It was a counter and we knew we could do damage. I struck it with all my might and it went in.”