Diego Simeone: Modric gives Real Madrid more aggression and presence in midfield

Atletico Madrid

The Atletico Madrid coach doesn't believe form in La Liga will make a jot of difference, when his side do battle with Real Madrid in the Champions League.

Atletico Madrid have the upper hand in domestic encounters against Real Madrid, over recent years, whilst their city rivals emerged as victors of the Champions League final in Lisbon, at the end of last season.

At his preview press conference on Monday, via Marca (translations by Heath Chesters/HITC), ahead of Tuesday's European derby duel between the two sides, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone indicated that he sees no favourites.

"Over the course of such a long championship, you can see the difference in the teams with the biggest budgets." Noted the Argentine coach, with reference to current standings in La Liga, albeit with the caveat: "In a direct confrontation like this, the forces at play can be comparable. Tomorrow is just one game and the possibilities are open for both."

Earlier in the day, Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti had referred to pitting his wits against Simeone, as "an honour and a problem" - to which the Atletico coach responded:

"I have great admiration for the man. He's highly respected and capable. He doesn't vary his comments in defeat or in victory. That puts him in a different place. It's an honour to compete against the best, and Carlo is one of them."

As for his expectations for the game against Real Madrid, Simeone suggested key moments can make the difference, offering the view: "It's particular plays that can break open a game. They're just things that happen in a game."

Whilst that's certainly been true of previous derby victories for Atletico, Simeone insisted: "I'm not looking back over past games. This will be a completely new game. A quarter-final encounter is nothing like one in La Liga, or the final of the Champions League."

As such, Simeone predicted: "Both teams will have plenty of intention to play with a lot of intensity. I don't imagine any other kind of game, other than like the one two years ago in the Copa del Rey." Recalling on that occasion, it was Real Madrid who emerged victorious over two legs in the semi-finals of the competition.

Cristiano Ronaldo had recently claimed Real Madrid have vastly superior quality, in all positions, compared to Atletico Madrid. When that was mentioned to Simeone, he responded: "In all positions, no, but in various positions, they have much more individual talent."

Real Madrid have welcomed back Sergio Ramos, Luka Modric and James Rodriguez, from their respective injury problems. Simeone offered the view: They're all extraordinary footballers. We have great respect for the quality and ability they have. The presence of Ramos, Modric and James, makes what is already a powerful rival, all the more powerful."

Simeone concluded by particularly highlighting what former Tottenham star, Luka Modric, offers to Real Madrid, noting that both offensively and defensively: "Modric gives them more aggression and presence in midfield."

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