Diego Simeone: Experience will not influence Europa League final
The Argentinian guided Atletico to success in the competition in 2012.
Diego Simeone has played down the significance of Atletico Madrid’s big-game experience ahead of the Europa League final against Marseille.
The Argentinian guided Atletico to success in the competition in 2012, a victory which provided a springboard for runs to the Champions League finals of 2014 and 2016.
The Rojiblancos also won LaLiga in 2014 and Simeone hopes to make use of those experiences against the French side in Lyon on Wednesday, but he concedes they will not make a huge difference.
Simeone said: “Experience is a little thing that can help but it’s not going to have too much influence.
“We’ll be excited, up for it, but also tense. We need to take the game where we want it and do damage where we can.”
With the likes of Dimitri Payet and Florian Thauvin shining in attack, Marseille have impressed throughout the campaign.
Simeone said: “They’ve had a great season, at home and on the continent.
“We’re two similar sides. They’ve maybe not been together as long as we have but they’re just as enthusiastic and work hard. It’ll be a great final.”
Simeone himself will have to watch from afar as he continues to serve a touchline ban for his dismissal during the first leg of his side’s semi-final against Arsenal.
Speaking at his pre-match press conference, which was covered by uefa.com, Simeone said: “I wasn’t on the sidelines for the Arsenal game and it’s the same tomorrow.
“I’m sad not to be able to be on the sidelines, but I have full confidence in (assistant) German Burgos. We think the same and have worked together for so long.”
The match is the first of two opportunities Marseille will have this week to qualify for the Champions League.
After the final in Lyon, Marseille will go into their final Ligue 1 match of the season against Amiens with a chance of snatching third spot if results go in their favour.
Captain Payet is going all out for victory in both games and hopes his team can draw strength against Atletico from the fact the game is in France.
The former West Ham playmaker told Telefoot: “We believe against Atletico because this season has shown that we are a real team. We’ve proven that we could overcome some steep challenges.
“We have the chance to play at home — in our country — with a national fervour.
“Today, of course, Atletico are favourites. They want to win the Champions League and the Europa League, but we will play with our heart.”
Payet hailed the Marseille supporters for helping carry the team so far.
The 31-year-old, who should be fit after a minor knock last weekend, said: “We have seen a lot throughout the European course. There has been an incredible atmosphere – both in Marseille and also throughout France. Of course we feel the 12th man.
“I knew with the love story between the club and the supporters, and the support for the European Cup, if we could go far in this competition the fans would answer magnificently and that would help us fight in the league as well.
“We’ve managed to navigate the two, which is not easy. We still have two games to play for everything, so we’re getting ready for that.”