Following a 1-1 draw in their Champions League opener against Lazio, Atletico Madrid will shift all their attention to La Liga, as they brace themselves for the derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Heading into this game, Atleti midfielder Marcos Llorente spoke about Real Madrid’s quality and Atletico Madrid’s chances of squeezing all three points from this iconic derby.
Llorente on Madrid derby
“The sensations are good. The team is very good, the other day we played a great game despite ending up drawing. I really think that the team did a great job that must be maintained for this match,” Llorente said in an interview with Diario AS.
When asked whether or not Real Madrid being tagged as favourites could aid Atleti, the midfielder said, “Honestly, it neither motivates me nor demotivates me. We simply have to do what we work on during the week, what the coach asks of us.”
Llorente stressed the importance of the game, adding, “It is a great rival we have in front of us, they are having a very good start to the season and that motivates me and everyone to try to play a good game.”
“Real Madrid is a great club, they have great players and it is very difficult to beat them. I think we have competed, we have also achieved several draws, but in the end, either you go out one hundred percent and do things very, very well or it is difficult to beat them,” he added.
A former member of the Real Madrid youth academy, Llorente joined Atletico Madrid in 2019. Since then, he has racked up over 150 competitive appearances for Los Colchoneros.
Llorente, though, said he feels no sense of vindication when he performs well against his former team.
“No. In the end, it’s been many years since I left there and I’m at Atlético. Perhaps in the first years, those types of feelings and sensations can arise, but today they no longer do,” he said.
Llorente on Vinicius, Koke & Bellingham
The Atletico Madrid star went on to talk about other aspects of the game, including the fact that his team had one less player every time they faced Real Madrid last season.
“I have zero worries. These are things that are not in our remit, that escape our hands. We play football, the referees referee and those who have to decide decide,” he said.
Llorente, in fact, said that the return of Koke could be a real boost for Atleti. “It is always good that Koke is with us, both on the field and in the day-to-day life of the game,” he said.
“Beyond the grass. The support he gives, the advice he gives us, his experience. it is always important to have him and it is great news that he is already training with us,” he added.
Talking about the absence of Vinicius Junior and the form of Jude Bellingham, Llorente said, “Well, you have to be careful with everyone. All Real Madrid players are very good and can make a difference at any moment of the game. Bellingham is having a great start and we have to take that into account and be very focused.”
Finally, Marcos Llorente put out a message for all the Atletico Madrid fans, claiming their support ahead of this crucial encounter this weekend.
“It will be a full house as always. We don’t have to tell them anything, they know the importance of this match for Atlético, we know that they never fail, they are always supporting us and we count on them,” he said.
Diego Simeone opines on Mbappe to Real Madrid links: “I would love it”
Speaking in an interview with AS, Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has claimed that he would love to see Kylian Mbappe join arch-rivals Real Madrid this summer as it would elevate the quality and level of La Liga.
Mbappe has been heavily linked with a move to Real Madrid once again this summer and there is a feeling that the operation could speed up over the coming week.
And Simeone insists that the Frenchman’s arrival will happen either this year or next year and will be a big positive for La Liga.
I would love it, it would be extraordinary for La Liga, to ensure it remains among the best. All footballers who come to Spain are a boost,” Simeone said.
“Madrid has no economic problem to afford it. Surely if not this year, the following year we will be competing against him.”
When asked if Mbappe potentially joining Real Madrid will make it more difficult for Atletico to win La Liga, the Argentine manager replied:
“Depending on how you look at it. We’ve won a league against Messi, Iniesta, Alexis, Xavi, Busquets… Ronaldo, Bale, Benzema… It’s football, not names.”
Moving forward, Simeone also went on to praise the recruitment strategy of Los Blancos, highlighting their ability to identify and invest in top young talents.
“Madrid, after years of being more careful with their signings, have now turned to bringing in young players and they always choose well, especially with players like Valverde, Rodrygo, Vinicius who went through the youth academy,” Simeone stated.
“With significant financial resources, they have focused on youngsters with a huge future, they have brought in Bellingham, Mbappe could come… Madrid work very well in these areas.”
As far as Mbappe is concerned, the operation to cost the Frenchman is likely to cost Real Madrid around €230-250 million and it remains to be seen whether it actually goes through now or next year when he becomes a free agent.