Simeone: Atleti focused solely on Elche
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone says his side are fully focused on Friday night’s La Liga game against Elche at the Calderon and will hold nothing back ahead of Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal clash with Chelsea.
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Atletico go into the game knowing a win would send them six points clear of second-placed Real Madrid, and seven ahead of Barcelona in third, although their title rivals will have a game in hand.
Asked at his prematch news conference if he might hold some players back considering the Chelsea game is so close, the Colcheronos coach said he had nothing else in mind apart from racking up another La Liga win.
“We try to keep away from everything else, except this game against Elche,” he said. “We want to come into this game in the best way possible. We hope to impose our game, in a full stadium, and then move on to the game against Chelsea. It is normal that the fans can talk or journalists can write. But the only thing we are thinking about is playing tomorrow’s game.”
In a shorter than usual press briefing, Simeone did not reveal the starting lineup he had in mind but did say that top scorer Diego Costa had overcome the serious-looking cut leg suffered in last weekend’s 2-0 La Liga win at Getafe and was back in full training.
Arda Turan is still not fully recovered from a groin problem that has seen him spend the last fortnight on the sidelines, but the Turkish playmaker may well be back for Tuesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg at home to Chelsea.
“Costa and Arda are doing their work,” Simeone said. “Arda is the only one outside of the group; maybe today he can train with his teammates. Apart from that everyone is fine.”
Elche will head to the Calderon determined to secure a result as they currently sit 15th, just four points above the drop zone. Simeone was keen to talk up the danger of a side well organised by boss Fran Escriba, who was assistant to then Atletico coach Quique Sanchez Flores between 2009 and 2011.
“We try to focus on a difficult game against a side that are good tactically, defend well, have pace on the wings, and are good at set-pieces. They will want to save themselves as soon as possible, and do their own work.”