Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone said he would rather have a Europa League trophy than a Champions League final loss on his resume.
Simeone’s Atletico host Portuguese visitors Sporting CP in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday.
Atletico dropped down to the Europa League after failing to progress beyond the Champions League group stage this season.
The Spanish capital club are no stranger to Europe’s second-tier competition, having claimed the trophy in 2009-10 and 2011-12, and Simeone insisted he is motivated to win a third crown after tasting Champions League defeat in the 2014 and 2016 deciders.
“It’s normal people have their own opinions and that we’re more motivated or less depending on the rival,” Simeone, who led Atletico to the 2014 La Liga title, told reporters.
“But they don’t live football from the inside so they don’t know the rivals as we do. If we had to play against Bayern Munich they would say it’s an impossible game but if it was against Astana they would say it’s easy, but the truth is you have to play every game and we always try to do our best to qualify for the next rounds.
“Indeed, we think we’re even [with Sporting] for this qualifying round. Sporting have a great coach, a very capable man. The teams he’s trained always did a good job.
“And on about what I prefer on my resume, I have to say that I will always choose the wins.
“It’s an important achievement to be runner-up in an important competition such as the Champions League but it’s always better to be the champion, that’s obvious.”