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Coach Diego Simeone discusses his love of Club Atlético de Madrid, the uncertainty of management, creating a playing style of his own and what it will mean if the UEFA Europa League holders defeat Chelsea FC in Friday's UEFA Super Cup.
UEFA.com: How will you approach the UEFA Super Cup match in Monaco?
Diego Simeone: We are working in a certain way. We know the Super Cup match is beautiful, but we focus on every single match. We know how important it is. After having won the Europa League, and now facing the Champions League winners, we are in a nice place. I hope we can enjoy it.
UEFA.com: The game is a chance to prove yourself against the best in Europe ...
Simeone: We don't have anything to prove. It is a match between two teams that have won two different cups – and we are very proud of the cup we won. People may think Chelsea are superior because they won the Champions League, but when there is only one match to play we all know that everything becomes more difficult.
UEFA.com: What did that UEFA Europa League final in Bucharest mean to you?
Simeone: It was huge, because the match was perfect; it went just as we had thought and imagined it would, so that made us even happier. Athletic Club are big rivals, and we managed to play that match in the best possible way.
UEFA.com: You are a legend among the Atlético fans. What does this club mean to you?
Simeone: A joy. Finding myself in a final with Atlético makes me happy. Why? Because I know the feelings of all the people at the club – because I know how the players feel. They need to see their team as champions, so we have more fans every day. And the only way to get it is by getting ready, working and being lucky enough that things go well in such an important match as this.
UEFA.com: What are the differences between playing for Atlético and coaching them?
Simeone: I prefer to play, because when I was a player my contract was certain for several years. I was happy to know that even if the coach left, I'd remain in the team. Now I know that if we do badly, I will be out. I am clear about that.
UEFA.com: What changes have there been to the team over the summer?
Simeone: We lost Diego – with his vision and his style he was often decisive for us – but we have a more competitive team if you look at the number of players we can call on. We might be missing a player of Diego's quality, but we have plenty of other players.
UEFA.com: You were part of the S.S. Lazio team that won 1-0 in the 1999 UEFA Super Cup. What does the competition mean for you?
Simeone: It's wonderful. Coming here as a coach, after playing in Monaco against a Manchester United side who had beaten everybody, is very nice. I watched as a fan when Atlético beat Inter 2-0 in 2010. Today, I am in the position of coach – it's a nice feeling. These are all nice words but it's winning that counts.
UEFA.com: What are your views on Chelsea?
Simeone: They are a very competitive team, with a very serious coach who has given them a very solid structure. All of them defend. They know how to drop back – that was one of the virtues that helped them win the Champions League. They don't rush – they are patient because they know they have good individuals. They have grown a bit more, with several new players, but we will use our qualities to try and defeat them.
UEFA.com: It has been said that some Spanish teams are trying to imitate FC Barcelona's style. Do you think all teams should play like that?
Simeone: No. I think there is an idea, a unique essence to every club. It isn't as simple as telling an Argentinian player, when he arrives: "Get ready, put yourself here," and then a month later, he has been fully integrated. No. Every footballer has their own identity. A Uruguayan player is different to a Spanish player. A Portuguese player may be similar to a Spanish one, but not the same – and so on.
Players' different qualities may give you certain possibilities you can use. As a coach you need to choose the characteristics your players can contribute. I don't think it's a good thing for a coach to analyse his team by looking for something he sees in other teams. He has to pay close attention to the characteristics his team have, and make the most of those.
UEFA.com: Last season you took over a team that was already built and improved results. This year the pressure on you is much higher, isn't it?
Simeone: The responsibility was pretty great last year: it was a difficult time for the team, they had lost a lot of matches, and we had to change things. Today the responsibility is completely ours – we have been able to work, and I hope we will become more competitive as a team.
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