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Simeone emphasises Europa League importance

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has emphasised the importance of the Europa League in his pre-match press conference ahead of facing Copenhagen on Thursday evening.

Atleti travel to the Parken Arena on Thursday evening, having been eliminated from the Champions League in the group stages.

A poor run in Europe’s main competition came to an end before the turn of the year, before their third place standing saw them enter the Europa League; a competition they have had much success in, winning it on two occasions.

Whilst Simeone’s side are fully focused on a title challenge, the Argentine boss has attempted to stress the importance of a potential success in the Europa.

“I do not look beyond the game against Copenhagen, ” he told reporters. “My mind and enthusiasm are focused on the game, and making my players think the same.

“The rest is in our imagination. We live in reality, not in our thoughts, and reality is what is going to happen tomorrow.

“Just as we have faced European ties in the same way for the past seven years, we will face the Europa League. We will go game by game until we are stopped, that is the reality we have ahead.

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“With enthusiasm and against a competitive team, we will have to take the match to where it suits us best.

“It will be difficult, with a lot of atmosphere in their stadium. I played there with Lazio and they have a lot of passion, they play a very good passing game.”

Since the defeat to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey earlier this month, Atleti have won three out of three league games, conceding no goals in the process.

Whilst, Thursday’s hosts Copenhagen are in inconsistent form, sitting fourth in the Danish league, 18 points off league leaders, FC Midtjylland.

Solbakken approaching tie with caution

Boss Ståle Solbakken wants his side to get a result in the first leg, but said he was keeping grounded in his preparations for the tie.

“Our goal is to go to the second leg with an open tie,” he told the press conference prior the match.

“It would be naive not to make any small tactical adjustments when you face a rival like Atletico.”

Elsewhere, the other La Liga representatives in the competition, Real Sociedad, Athletic Club and Villarreal are all in action.

Eusebio Sacristan’s side face Red Bull Salzburg, whilst Athletic play Spartak Moscow and the Yellow Submarine host French side Olympique Lyonnais.

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