The official website for European football

Simeone wants Atlético 'to sort men from boys'

Published: Wednesday 28 March 2012, 19.05CET
Club Atlético de Madrid coach Diego Simeone has called on his players to "stand up and be counted" against a Hannover 96 side who believe they can rub shoulders with the very best.
by Marcos Prieto
from Madrid
Simeone wants Atlético 'to sort men from boys'
Atlético and Falcao have impressive UEFA Europa League pedigree ©AFP/Getty Images
Published: Wednesday 28 March 2012, 19.05CET

Simeone wants Atlético 'to sort men from boys'

Club Atlético de Madrid coach Diego Simeone has called on his players to "stand up and be counted" against a Hannover 96 side who believe they can rub shoulders with the very best.

Club Atlético de Madrid coach Diego Simeone says the opening leg of his team's quarter-final against Hannover 96 will be the perfect time for their pedigree to come to the fore.

At this stage, it sorts the men from the boys and it's time for our players to stand up and be counted
Diego Simeone
If we are brave, we have an opportunity to do something great. I'm sure we will
Mirko Slomka

Winners of the inaugural UEFA Europa League two years ago, the Spanish side are once again in the hunt for the trophy having been reinvigorated since Simeone's appointment in December. Trouble-free aggregate victories against S.S. Lazio and Beşiktaş JK so far in the knockout phase have only served to reinforce the belief that Atlético are where they belong.

"It's a beautiful stage on which to play and it requires a lot of responsibility," said Simeone. "At this stage, it sorts the men from the boys and it's time for our players to stand up and be counted. I hope they can respond adequately, and that hope, enthusiasm and knowing the importance of just what they are playing will mask any tiredness they are feeling."

Buoyed by the return of influential playmaker Diego on Sunday in an otherwise disappointing 1-0 defeat at Real Zaragoza, Simeone also has Tiago and Arda Turan at his disposal once more. He may well need all his key players to be at the top of their game against a Hannover side who kicked off only their second European campaign with a play-off triumph against Sevilla FC.

"They are solid on the flanks and can strike dangerously, particularly down the left. They play a good long-ball game, with [Lars] Stindl instrumental. They also have quick, powerful forwards and are good in the air – a classic German side. They have scored in nearly every game and we will need to be switched on from the start. We are hopeful and full of enthusiasm, especially knowing a lot of fans are coming to support us."

There will also be a sizeable German contingent at the Vicente Calderón, and Hannover boss Mirko Slomka is determined to reward their passion and commitment. "Atlético do not have any shortfalls, either in attack or defence, and we know we are not favourites," he said. "But we will do our best. We want our supporters, who are here in number, to go home with something positive. We expect to score, for starters."

Having registered nine goals in their last three games, Hannover have not been struggling on that front, even if they were beaten 2-1 at FC Bayern München on Saturday. Slomka said that proved his side "are now able to hold our own against great teams", and he hopes to underline that improvement over the next eight days. "Hannover are back in international football and we are among the best teams left in the competition. If we are brave, we have an opportunity to do something great. I'm sure we will."

Last updated: 28/03/12 20.05CET

Related information

Coach profiles
Team profiles

http://www.uefa.com/uefaeuropaleague/season=2012/matches/round=2000275/match=2007471/prematch/preview/index.html#simeone+wants+atletico+sort+from+boys

UEFA.com features

Talents out to shine in UEFA Champions League
  • Talents out to shine in UEFA Champions League
  • Bulgarian keepers' best European displays
  • Jelić soaring after five-star debut for Rad
  • Newcomers Eibar make coach Garitano proud
  • Balzan ambition helping Malta
  • Shaw's Spanish journey aids Perth
  • Bundesliga preview ... are Bayern beatable?
  • Who are  FC Shakhtyor Soligorsk?
  • Kazakh clubs' greatest European nights
  • See your favourite Steaua moments
1 of 10
  • © 1998-2014 UEFA. All rights reserved.
  • The UEFA word, the UEFA logo and all marks related to UEFA competitions, are protected by trade marks and/or copyright of UEFA. No use for commercial purposes may be made of such trade marks. Use of UEFA.com signifies your agreement to the Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy.