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Diego Simeone Believes Atletico Madrid Players Are ‘Not Afraid Of Death’

During an interview with Spanish television, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone stated that he believes his team is “not afraid of death” and understands it has “worse players than other teams on paper.” The Argentinian boss is confident that this realization and lack of fear is what makes his side stronger and pulls them together during knockout competitions and other difficult matches.

Atletico Madrid’s next fixture is on Thursday when they will travel to the Santiago Bernabeu to take on reigning European and Club World Cup champions Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 second leg. Last week, Los Colchoneros defeated their cross-city rivals 2-0 during the first leg of the tie on the strength of goals from Raúl García and defender José María Giménez.

Last season, Carlo Ancelotti’s side knocked Atletico out in the semi-finals of the competition by an aggregate score of 5-0, and also defeated their city rivals in the Champions League final, 3-1.

Programming note: The second leg of Real Madrid vs. Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey Round of 16 will be shown LIVE on Thursday starting at 1:55pm EST on beIN SPORTS and DishWorld.

This year, Simeone’s men have beaten Real Madrid over two legs to win the Spanish Supercopa and handed their neighbors a 2-1 defeat during their first La Liga match at the Bernabeu in September.

Heading into the Copa del Rey Round of 16 second leg, Simeone told Canal + that winning is not just about playing well. The 44-year-old also gave a frank assessment of his team’s strengths and spoke about what motivates his players, particularly in finals.

“The key is to bring together lots of people who think the same way,” the manager told Canal +. “Winning is not only due to playing well but understanding each other and how you compete.”

“I know my players will perform well in [knockout ties] because they’re do or die, and my players are not afraid of death.”

“We know we have worse players than other teams on paper. We know that’s the case. That’s our strength. The day we think we’re better than them, they’ll put four past us.”

“The essence of the game is to find guys who want to win, who want to train, who want to play, who want to compete.”

When asked about the chances of duplicating last season’s success which saw Atletico Madrid crowned champions of Spain and come only a few seconds away from a first-ever Champions League title, Simeone typically downplayed his side’s chances. But the manager does believe his team is growing together and grasping the philosophy which has bred success at the Vicente Calderon in recent years.

“Obviously we can’t match last year,” Simeone said. “But when you’re put in a situation in which ten players come in, it’s exciting, because the lads aren’t all the same and they [the new signings] gradually start to feel more and more part of the team. Take [Antoine] Griezmann. He’s fitting in better and better, and [Mario] Mandzukic, who has embraced the team’s ethos.”

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