Diego says Atletico Madrid are going to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu to win Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semifinal first leg at the home of their neighbours and rivals Real Madrid.
Atletico have won on both their last visits to the Bernabeu, including last year's Copa final, having previously gone 14 years without a derbi victory -- and were twice beaten 4-1 when Diego spent the 2011-12 season spent on loan at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.
The Brazilian playmaker rejoined Atletico from Wolfsburg just as the January transfer window shut last Friday, made his second debut for the club while scoring in the 4-0 home win over Real Sociedad which sent Los Colchoneros three points clear at the top of the La Liga table, and could well now start Wednesday’s eagerly awaited Copa clash given David Villa has been ruled out with a hamstring strain.
The 28-year-old said at his presentation on Monday that he expected a tough game, but he and his teammates were going to the Bernabeu with a positive mindset.
“It will be a very difficult game, as it always is to play against Real Madrid, but we are ready to play a great game,” Diego said. “We will prepare the game to win it. It is a spectacular game to play in -- and we will give everything to win.”
Since returning to the Bundesliga in summer 2012 Diego had been regularly linked with a return to the Calderon, but financial issues had held things up until an initial move was agreed last week for an initial six months at least.
“It was a difficult situation because there were three parties involved,” Diego said. “I always left my intention to return very clear, but Wolfsburg were counting on me. The chance is now as I am finishing my contract. We always tried in the past, but it could not happen until now.”
The Atletico team he was rejoining was now much better than the side he had played in, Diego said, but it had not lost the "humility" which underpinned everything it did.
“Now it is a team which is used to winning,” Diego said. “It is a strong team in Europe, but even still a team which works with humility, with simplicity and going from game to game. For me it is a pleasure to be part of this team.”
Colchoneros coach Diego Simeone had been key in convincing him to return to the Calderon, Diego said.
“He was fundamental,” he said. “He is the best coach I have worked with. He helped me so much as a player and as a person. The confidence he had in me was the key to the decision I took. I hope to show I deserve this confidence.”