Brazilian left-back Filipe Luís and home-grown midfielder Koke explain how the Atlético Madrid fans and memories of the 2013/14 final loss to Real Madrid are helping them as they bid to make it past Bayern to this season’s decider in Milan.
UEFA.com: The current campaign has brought back memories of the 2013/14 season, when Atlético reached the final and lost to Real Madrid. How do you feel when you look back on that?
Koke: It’s a sad memory, of course – but at the same time we have to be pleased about that season. We played an almost perfect season in the Champions League, except the final. But it was an exciting campaign for us, and to make it to the final was unbelievable. We’ve already been close to winning it, so why not try to do it this season?
Filipe Luís: There is a lot of emotion involved now that we can reach another final. From a very young age, I have dreamed of winning this trophy – lifting it, kissing it and taking a picture with it. We were very close, but in football these things happen. And only in rare cases do you get another opportunity, like now. We hope to go down in history and win this trophy.
UEFA.com: Tell us about Diego Simeone – what is he like to work with and what impact has he had on your careers?
Atlético coach Diego Simeone
Koke: If you look at my career, you can see that it has been very positive working under him. From the first moment he gave me the opportunity and confidence that I was maybe missing with other coaches. But he trusted me and I’ve been paying him back for that.
Filipe Luís: We know each other really well – we’ve been working together for a long time now. And when you’re happy and it’s a nice place to work and you feel the confidence of your team-mates, that helps you loosen up and produce even more.
UEFA.com: What did beating Barcelona in the quarter-finals do for the belief within this squad?
Koke: It was very positive. Just imagine knocking out the best club around – of course it lifted the morale of everyone, the fans included.
Filipe Luís: And it wasn’t just any Barcelona team that we beat – this Barcelona side never stops scoring. So we’ve gained a lot of confidence for these final stages of the competition.
UEFA.com: The bond between this team and the fans is amazing. How would you describe it?
Koke: It has always been very positive. Every time I set foot on the pitch for the first team, and in the youth categories too, you can feel the passion of the fans, especially for the players who came through the youth system – they follow you. From the first time I played for the first team I’ve felt them behind me. That gives you a lot of confidence to go out there and do a good job.
Filipe Luís: There is no comparison in my opinion. It is unlike any other club I’ve played for. When you really need support, like away to Barcelona, you feel that lift when you are out on the pitch and getting tired. I played in those Champions League games in 2014 and I remember feeling that I would never experience a more powerful atmosphere in a football stadium. But not only have I felt it just as strongly this season, perhaps it has been even more intense.
Koke (2R) celebrates an Atlético goal