Atletico boss Simeone dismisses Europa League favourites tag

Atletico Madrid's Diego Simeone played down the hype surrounding his team ahead of Thursday's Europa League game against Lokomotiv Moscow.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone   -  Getty Images

Diego Simeone refused to be drawn on the widespread belief that Atletico Madrid are the team to beat in the Europa League this season.

Atletico have been installed as favourites to win the competition ahead of their last-16 showdown with Russian league leaders Lokomotiv Moscow on Thursday.

The Spanish club have enjoyed another impressive season under Simeone – second only to Barcelona in LaLiga, while they are seven points clear of city rivals Real Madrid.

Asked about Atletico being seen as favourites to claim their third second-tier European competition title and first since 2012, head coach Simeone told reporters: "It's normal that the press always wants to put a headline for every newspaper but for us what matters is tomorrow's game.

"It's none of our business if we are entitled like that, that's a journalistic thing, for us the only thing that matters is to have a great game tomorrow."

Atletico are flying high domestically and Simeone insisted: "The priority will always be both of them [LaLiga and the Europa League].

"We're focusing now on the Europa League because we have the game tomorrow and after that we will think about Celta Vigo."

Atletico reached the Champions League final in 2014 and 2016, but were beaten by arch-rivals Madrid on both occasions.

"I don't know if we have more to lose, of course everybody knows we've been doing great lately in the Champions League but the Europa League is also important, we really want to win it," star midfielder Koke added.

"We don't think that we won't get to the next round. We're focused on having a great game and winning tomorrow, then we shall see if we can make it to the end.

"Right now, we just want to qualify for the next round, that's what matters now."

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