Having dominated UEFA Champions League Group G, Club Atlético de Madrid will – according to midfielder Raúl García – go into Monday's round of 16 draw as a highly respected side.
The 27-year-old's spectacular opening goal against FC Porto set his team on their way to a fifth win in the section, a 2-0 success that eliminated their visitors. García told UEFA.com he was keen to see how far the Rojiblancos can go in the tournament while Porto's Fernando and Lucho González said the Portuguese champions will lift themselves for a UEFA Europa League challenge in the new year.
Raúl García, Atlético midfielder
We always go out to try to win so we are happy with tonight's result. We knew they would look to play, but we did the work we had to do. With my goal, my movement was good, I struck the ball well and it went in. The most important thing, however, is that the team won. When I scored, I went to the bench to celebrate with the team doctor and physios because they do such important work that allows us to play on days when we might otherwise not be fit for action.
We have qualified as group winners and we know we will be respected. Logically, there are some teams stronger than others but at this level saying you'd prefer one team or another in the draw makes no sense. On a personal level, I am finishing the group stage happy to have brought something to the cause and to have scored goals.
We will try to continue doing things well in the UEFA Champions League; let's see how far we can get. We will retain our humility in our work and will respect whoever we are drawn to face. One of the strong points of this club is the atmosphere within the squad. Everyone knows what they have to do and they are eager to do it. You can really notice it these past two years we have been working with the coach [Diego Simeone].
Daniel Aranzubia, Atlético goalkeeper
It was important to gain another victory because, despite having already qualified, we wanted to maintain our good momentum. I'm happy to have made my UEFA Champions League debut tonight. There were some new emotions for me. I had never played a home game at the Vicente Calderón and fortunately I did so with a Champions League win.
At the end of the day, all the teams in the draw for the next round are big teams and it would be showing a lack of respect to say you would prefer to play one over another. It's obvious that Arsenal and Manchester City are the strongest [second-placed finishers] on paper but every other team will be hard to beat.
Fernando, Porto midfielder
It was not only a question of bad luck. We were too naive. We lost focus several times and we paid the price. We were far from our best in most of the group games, not only in this one. We made too many mistakes. We wanted to go further in this competition, but now we have to keep working so we can put in a good UEFA Europa League campaign. With more focus and with everyone pulling in the same direction, I believe we can be candidates to win that competition.
Lucho González, Porto midfielder
We are down, because our goal was to get through to the next phase. Looking back at all our games in this group stage, we made too many mistakes so we deserved to be eliminated. Now we must analyse the campaign and try to understand where we failed. Obviously, we will now do all we can to win the UEFA Europa League. We must lift ourselves.
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