Simeone hails 'heroic' Atlético players

Diego Simeone heaped praise on his "heroic" Club Atlético de Madrid players after they reached the final at the expense of Valencia CF, whose coach remained upbeat despite elimination.

Simeone hails 'heroic' Atlético players
Simeone hails 'heroic' Atlético players ©

Unai Emery, Valencia coach
We were very excited about this competition and we gave it our all. We knew the tie would be very tough against a great team like Atlético. We did not score in the first half, which is was what we wanted. We're out, but I'm pleased with my players. Atlético are having a great campaign in this tournament.

We had a great first half. We had to stop the Atlético counterattacks and we also had to attack them. In the first half we held a good line but in the second half we failed to do it and they scored, which was a big blow for us. We fought until the end. We reached the semi-finals but now we must focus on the league. This weekend we have a very important match.

Diego Simeone, Atlético coach
I am very happy, mainly for the players, who have made an enormous effort. What they do is heroic. Playing on Sunday, on Thursday and then on Sunday again for almost two months with a small squad. We also had some injuries to important players such as Antonio López and Silvio, who have barely been able to help us. Also, I am happy for the board, who have trusted us to lead this group, which was well built from the beginning. Obviously, I am delighted for all the Atlético fans because today they are proud to support this team.

We started well in the first seven or eight minutes, but we knew they could hurt us between the lines with [Sergio] Canales. They played very well for a part of the game and were able to play the way they normally do here at Mestalla. However, with a tactical change we started to win the ball back and restrict them in the area behind Mario Suárez and Tiago. In the second half we had no scares, we knew that eventually they were going to leave more spaces and then Adrián [López] came up with his goal to settle the tie.

Athletic are having a superb tournament. They are going to play in the final of the Copa del Rey and will now also play in the Europa League final. I can only congratulate them. I know Marcelo Bielsa well and also the people who work with him. It will be a nice final between friends but we want to win. I am very proud to be back at Atlético and I feel a lot of responsibility. Today Atletico people will go to bed very happy.