Atletico Madrid’s Simeone is still hungry for Champions League glory

MADRID: Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has said he is more motivated than ever to achieve Champions League success more than a decade into his tenure at the club.

Simeone took his side to two Champions League finals – losing in 2014 and 2016 to Real Madrid – but insisted he still had a desire to see them reach the top of European play.

“I’m still driven by the same emotions as when I arrived at the club (in 2011) and we were 15 points from third and last place in the Champions League,” he said.

“I’m the first person who demands the most of me and I’m also my biggest critic. We’ve grown a lot and with the players the club has brought in, and the options that gives you, to be in upheaval because things bring out the best in you.”

Leverkusen lost 1-0 at Club Brugge in their first Champions League group game and languishes second in the Bundesliga after six games, but Simeone stressed he took nothing for granted against the team by Gerardo Seoane.

“I have a lot of respect for the German clubs. They are mentally very strong, they never let their guard down and they always compete,” Simeone said.

“I liked the way they played against Brugge. They were fast and played good football. They may have lost but they deserved something. We expect an organized team that will look to play against.”

Atleti will be without midfielder Thomas Lemar, who suffered a muscle injury on Monday, for the trip to Germany as well as defenders Stefan Savic and Jose Maria Gimenez.

However, goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who missed Saturday’s 4-1 home win over Celta Vigo, has been named in the traveling squad.