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May 19, 2014

Atletico still hopeful over injured duo

ESPN FC's Joao-Castelo Branco reports from Madrid updating the injury statuses of the stars for the Champions League final.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has admitted Diego Costa and Arda Turan are big doubts for Saturday's Champions League final against Real Madrid, saying that only players in top physical condition will be considered the game.

Diego Costa injured and Cesc Fabregas Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid
Diego Costa injured and Cesc Fabregas Barcelona vs Atletico Madrid

Mitten: Three Things
Walker: Tears of joy
Hunter: Shades of Pep
Marcotti: Atletico lesson

Atletico confirmed on Monday afternoon that Costa suffered a grade 1 hamstring tear early in Saturday's La Liga decider at Barcelona's Camp Nou, an injury which would normally make it very unlikely that the Brazil-born Spain international would be able to play this weekend.

The club have not revealed details of Turan's issue, although the Turkish playmaker has been troubled by a groin problem through recent weeks, and was also substituted off early against Barca.

The Colchoneros coach told a slightly chaotic official UEFA pre-final open media day at their Estadio Vicente Calderon on Monday evening that it was too early to make any fitness calls, but he would not start any player who was not physically ready in such a huge game.

"We still have some days to go, we are not going to say anything yet," Simeone said. "It is too soon, ahead of an important game. We will prepare in our own way, wait on the injury news from Costa and Arda until end of the week. And if necessary look for alternatives as needed. This is not a game for players at 80 per cent. Obviously we need players who are in good condition for this game."

Atletico's fans and players [including Costa and Turan] spent Saturday evening and all day Sunday celebrating the draw at Barca -- which brought the Calderon club a first title win in 18 years. Simeone said it had been important to enjoy the victory, but now it was time to knuckle down to work ahead of Saturday's final.

"It is always better to have won," he said. "But we never look back, whether we have won or lost. That would not be good for us. We need to focus on this week to arrive at the final in the best condition possible. We want to work very well this week -- these days we have in front of us. Focused on the objective we have in front of us."

The Argentine coach said Saturday's game against Atletico's city rivals was too tight to call, while predicting that the midfield area -- where Madrid will be missing the suspended Xabi Alonso -- was likely where the match would be won and lost.

"With percentages it is without doubt 50 / 50," Simeone said. "They have better individual players, and important desire. We have that desire too. It will be a very balanced game, I imagine. The middle of the pitch could be the deciding of the game."

Asked if back-up attacker Adrian Lopez was ready to step in should Costa not make the final, Simeone said the Asturian had already shown his ability against Barcelona and Chelsea earlier in the competition.

"Adrian knows what I think of him -- he is vertical, with talent, scores goals, very quick," he said. "For sure he will be at his best, as he was against Barcelona and especially against Chelsea. We will see what happens with Costa and Arda, and then decide who might play."

The former Atletico, Lazio and Inter Milan midfielder also said he had no intention of coaching anywhere else next season, as he felt there was still room for improvement at Atletico.

"I am very happy where we are," Simeone said. "Next season I will stay here. The progression since I arrived has been very good -- fifth in La Liga, winning the Europa League, European Supercup, Copa del Rey, this year we've won La Liga. I see the club is still growing, we can keep reinforcing to remain a team which can compete with the best, despite other clubs' financial advantages."

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