Champions League - Simeone thanks players' mothers for team's 'big cojones'

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone handed the credit for his side's famous win over Chelsea to an unlikely source – the players' mothers.

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Champions League - Simeone thanks players' mothers for team's 'big cojones'
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Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone (AFP)

'THIS WILL STICK IN PEOPLE'S MEMORIES'

Simeone's side beat Chelsea 3-1 with a commanding performance in the semi-final second leg at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday and he ended his post-match press conference with the unexpected tribute.

“I want to congratulate the mothers of these players, because they gave them big balls to play like this," he said.

"The reaction of the team will stick in people's memories."

Simeone added his players relished the chance of meeting Real Madrid in the Champions League final next month even though they have less experience on the big stage than their powerful city rivals.

"The reality is that we know each other very well. We will be playing against a very powerful club who are used to these big nights.

"It's been a long time since we were in such a position so we are very happy and excited to be there."

Meanwhile, Chelsea manager Jose Mourinho said he felt the difference between his side and Atletico was that Simeone had been building the Spanish league leaders for three years and he had been back at Chelsea only one season.

"It's the difference between one year and three and it's a big difference...they are a very good side, very adapted to the ideas of this manager - every player fits his idea of how to play," he said.

EUROSPORT'S VIEW

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Mourinho has a point that Simeone has had more time to build his squad but failed to mention that he has done it with just a fraction of the budget that Chelsea have spent in recent years. The job Simeone has done at Atletico is truly remarkable. He has moulded a team in his image: tough, uncompromising, disciplined, and, it must also be said, immensely talented. Stylistically they are not dissimilar to Chelsea but despite having less heralded names, they undoubtedly proved themselves the better team over the course of two legs. People have been expecting Atletico to tail off all season, it hasn't happened. Whatever happens from here, it is has been a fantastic season for Simeone's men, and if anybody can lead them to a remarkable double, it is him.

WHAT HAPPENS NEXT

The two most important players in Chelsea's future might have been on the pitch last night wearing red and white. It might just be time for Thibaut Courtois to take his place in the Chelsea goal from next season. That's harsh on Petr Cech who is still a top goalkeeper, but Courtois is outstanding and still only 21. He could be the Chelsea stopper for the next 15 years, and the club needs to start showing they believe that. While up front is where Chelsea really need surgery and Diego Costa could be the blockbuster summer signing that fits the bill.

As for Simeone and Atletico, they will find it hard to replicate what they have done next season, especially if they lose Costa and Courtois. Simeone will no doubt be linked with bigger jobs – Barcelona and Manchester United being two such examples. However, you do feel Simeone and Atletico are a perfect marriage. They are a collective David spoiling for a fight with Goliath up the road at the Bernabeu. It would be fitting reward for this side if they took home at least one trophy, and if they do, whether it be La Liga or the Champions League, Simeone has to be considered European football's manager of the year.

WHAT THE MEDIA SAID

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Barney Ronay (The Guardian): It seems a shame to focus on Chelsea's failings. As Koke and Turan began to find their stride, Juanfran attacked energetically and Costa radiated a bicep-flexing menace, it was easy to see why Atletico have provided such a thrillingly concentrated presence in La Liga. They are an inspiring team built from parts and off-cuts and a core of excellent mature Spanish players. There may be a rush to junk Mourinho among those irritated by his demeanour and his win-at-all-costs approach which, when it fails, leaves him with no aesthetic ideals, no economic principles to hide behind. Perhaps the modern supermanager is a myth in itself: two of them have gone down now in the last two days but at the end here Mourinho was duly deferential towards a beautifully balanced opposition who are worthy finalists.

Matt Dickinson (The Times): The snappy gear, the arms spread out in triumph, the manic dash down the touchline. Diego Simeone might have been paying tribute to Jose Mourinho when he danced down the side of the pitch at Stamford Bridge last night — imitation as flattery — unless, of course, he was rubbing it in. Either way, it was history repeating itself. An unfashionable team punching a big one on the nose in the Champions League, and their up-and-coming, punkish manager revelling in the moment with a sprint of ecstasy.

[Read more newspaper reaction in Paper Round]

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