UEFA.com: Do you have special motivation to win this final because of the 2014 defeat in Lisbon?
Diego Simeone: There is no such thing as revenge in football, or in life for that matter, just new opportunities. ‘Revenge’ is a negative word, because it harks back to a defeat; on the other hand, ‘opportunity’ is about optimism, confidence and what’s to come, and that’s what we want to show in the Champions League.
UEFA.com: You have eliminated two possession-based, attack-minded sides in Barcelona and Bayern; will Real Madrid be a different kind of challenge?
Simeone: We’ve already played two of the top three teams in the world and now we’re facing the third in the final. Madrid are different to Barcelona and Bayern; they’re a much more direct team who are a massive threat from set pieces. They’re very strong defensively, particularly Pepe, [Raphaël] Varane and [Sergio] Ramos, and Casemiro has added balance to a team who have a lot of firepower. We’ll be ready and will look to play the game on our terms. Fingers crossed, that will be enough for us to do what we want, which is to win.
UEFA.com: What are the most notable differences between your squad of 2014 and this current squad?
Simeone: That 2014 team went into the final six days after a title decider against Barcelona, and with two of our most important players, Arda [Turan] and [Diego] Costa, carrying injuries. It was also perhaps a more mature squad, with the likes of [David] Villa, Raúl García, Diego Ribas, [José] Sosa and Mario Suárez. This squad is different because it’s full of young players who are going through all this for the first time and will undoubtedly come out much more mature for the experience.
UEFA.com: How did that 2014 loss affect you personally?
Simeone: Defeats are always tough, whatever you have lost, and they affect me the same way they affect anyone who loses a match – no more or less.
UEFA.com: The work ethic in this squad and the sense of unity is extraordinary; is that something you have created in training or was it about picking out the right players to create that system?
Simeone: We’ve been working on our style of play for the last four and a half years, with particular emphasis on our level of intensity. Many people drive themselves mad trying to get their players into that state. Even with the changes that have taken place, we’ve always kept up the same level of intensity. When new players come in, they understand the way we do things and what you need to play for Atlético Madrid. It’s obvious that when you join such a club, you have talent, but you need to be part of the group, work hard and put your heart into it.
UEFA.com: You have already made your name at Atlético by winning the UEFA Europa League, the UEFA Super Cup and the Spanish title. What would it mean to win the club’s first UEFA Champions League too?
Simeone: I think talk is cheap – when I hear people say what they’d like to happen, I think it’s empty. You have to live in the present. Of course we’ll prepare ourselves to win. It won’t come down to what I want; it’ll come down to how much effort we put in.