Simeone looks to book CL spot
Fri, 03 May 2013 21:12:00
Diego Simeone insists Atletico Madrid are ready to seal their place in next season's Champions League against Deportivo.
The 2-1 loss to Real was particularly demoralising for Atletico because they took an early lead against Jose Mourinho's side, which consisted of many fringe players, and still lost, all but ending their hopes of finishing above Los Blancos in the Primera Division table.
Simeone's squad travelled to Azerbaijan during the week to play a friendly against a local all-star team (Atletico won 3-0), which the Argentinian coach said helped them get over the disappointment of the derby defeat.
He also emphasised that they are now focusing on wrapping up qualification for the Champions League, which they will achieve if they get a point against relegation-battling Depor at the Riazor.
He told a press conference: "We were all together in Azerbaijan and that was good for us after a tough defeat like the one we suffered the other day.
"We haven't spoken much in relation to the game (against Real), we have focused on thinking about the next game, one that is important to us and could take us closer to an important objective: seeing Atletico in the Champions League again."
Deportivo's preparation for the game has been blighted by reports that their 4-0 win at Levante on April 13 is being investigated by the Spanish Football League and the Spanish anti-corruption prosecutor for possible match-fixing.
Depor coach Fernando Vazquez told reporters of his dismay at the allegations.
"Depor are offended, but relaxed; we did nothing strange," he said.
He added that the allegations are implausible given the club's dire financial situation.
"Matches can be explained in a thousand ways but it seems incredible that a club in our situation, that can barely pay our players, could be believed to have the resources to do something like that."
Vazquez will be without left winger Diogo Salomao, who has failed to recover in time from a calf injury, plus defender Abel Aguilar, who is suspended.
Forward Pizzi and left-back Silvio Azevedo, both on-loan at the club from Atletico, are unable to play due to the terms of their contract. However, Vazquez was confident that centre-back Aythami Artiles would be fit to play.
For Atletico, Arda Turan is available after recovering from injury but Diego Costa, though fit again, is suspended along with Koke.