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First Leverkusen, then Sevilla - Simeone staying focused on 'dangerous' Champions League

21   //    12 Mar 2017, 04:34 IST
diego simeone - cropped
Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone

Diego Simeone insists his Atletico Madrid side are focused on reaching the quarter-finals of the Champions League before their attention turns to Liga showdown with Sevilla on Saturday.

Atleti face a battle to qualify for Europe's elite club competition next season as Real Sociedad continue to keep the pressure on the fourth-placed Rojiblancos, while a 4-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen in the first leg of their last-16 tie put Simeone's side in a strong position to advance.

However, since that triumph, Atleti have witnessed Barcelona's incredible European comeback against Paris Saint-Germain - overturning a 4-0 deficit from the first leg to go through 6-5 on aggregate.

And Simeone is adamant his players must first ensure a smooth passage to the last eight before worrying again about the league, with Atleti facing third-placed Sevilla in a crunch meeting next week.

"It is important for us to continue in fourth place," Simeone told beIN Sports after the 1-0 win at Granada. "But first we think of the Champions League, which will be a tough match.

"We have already seen that the competition is dangerous. Hopefully we can be focused enough to produce a great performance in the [Vicente] Calderon."

Atleti struggled for long periods against lowly Granada and seemed destined for a draw until Antoine Griezmann's 84th-minute winner, leaving Simeone indebted to his star man's talents.

"It was hard, but we expected this match as we had seen Granada play well - especially at home," the coach said.


"It was a hard-fought and very difficult match and there were situations in the first half that were given offside that were not. That could have allowed us to play in better situations. 

"In the end, the strength of Griezmann has, once again, left us in a very good place."

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