Sinama Pongolle inspired by Liverpool success
Florent Sinama Pongolle believes Atletico Madrid can conquer Europe this season despite not even being among the three best teams in Spain last term, citing former club Liverpool as an example.
Atletico made it into the Champions League group stages for the first time in over a decade after finishing fourth in La Liga and then beating Schalke, last season`s quarter-finalists, 4-1 on aggregate in their third qualifying round tie.
Atletico`s second-leg thrashing of Schalke and Sunday`s 4-0 defeat of Malaga on the opening weekend of the Primera Liga season have suggested it could be a good year for the big-spending Spanish outfit, and new boy Sinama Pongolle is certainly of that mind.
The Frenchman, who joined Atletico from Recreativo Huelva in the summer, already owns a Champions League winners medal from his time at Liverpool, and he feels the Reds' 2005 success should give hope to the Rojiblancos.
'The year we won it we weren`t the best. We finished fifth in the Premier League that season, because Everton finished fourth. I remember it well,' he said.
'But the Champions League has a special system, it offers you a special motivation. The Champions League is the Champions League. There are no words to explain how every game is, with the music they play when you come out on the pitch, to play against Liverpool, Marseille, Milan...it is very nice.'
He added: 'The Champions League is the greatest competition possible for a club. We are going to show that because we`ve worked very hard to get here.
'It's been some time since Atletico have played in this competition.
'We may have been among the last to get into the Champions League, but we have already been included among the list of possible winners. Why not?'
Sinama Pongolle also spoke of his delight at Atletico`s draw for the Champions League group stages, where they will face Liverpool, Marseille and PSV Eindhoven.
It is a tough-looking pool, but for personal reasons the 23-year-old could not have been more pleased with the way things have worked out.
'The Champions League draw was a dream for me,' the former Le Havre striker told El Mundo Deportivo.
'To return to Liverpool is going to be unforgettable for me. I`m sure that Luis Garcia and I will get a special reception. I spent three years there, the nicest three years of my career to date.
'And then we have Marseille. I, as all French kids do, also dream of playing at the Stade Velodrome some day. Their fans are spectacular and the atmosphere will be great, although very hot.
'I was the happiest player in the squad after the draw.'