Football

Simeone puts Euro final out of mind

LEVANTE v ATLETICO MADRID
Tomorrow, 10.55pm, StarHub TV Ch 209 &
SingTel mio TV Ch 115

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has urged his team to put aside all thoughts of the Champions League final, as they look to move a step closer to securing the Primera Division title this weekend.

Los Rojiblancos joined city rivals Real Madrid in booking their place in the May 24 Lisbon showpiece with a brilliant 3-1 triumph in the second leg of their semi-final at Chelsea in midweek.

They head into the weekend four points ahead of Barcelona with three games left – six clear of Real, who have played 34 matches – and Simeone is wasting no time in turning his attention to domesticmatters after his team’s heroics in London.

“We had to work hard to find the match we wanted, and that was after the second goal,” he said ahead of tomorrow’s trip to the Estadio Ciudad de Valencia.

“The consequence was a big collective effort and having everyone chasing after the same objective,which was to get the team to the final.

“On Thursday we started preparing for the match against Levante, and nothing must distract us from keeping our focus on Levante.”

Real take on eighth-placed Valencia in the early hours of Monday morning, with Los Che heading to the Bernabeu looking to bounce back from their dramatic Europa League exit on Thursday night.

Juan Antonio Pizzi’s men had led Sevilla 3-0 in the second leg and looked on course to overturn their 2-0 firstleg deficit, but Stephane Mbia headed home a decisive stoppage-time away goal to send the visitors through to the final.

“I am proud of the players, the fans and everyone representing the club,” said Pizzi. “We all have to evaluate this and learn, and try to be better every day. But I have told the players I am proud of them. We deserved to reach the final and did enough to get there.”