The former Lazio player has revealed that Thursday’s trip back to the Stadio Olimpico will be an emotional return, but is focussed only on progression for Atleti
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone is expecting a warm reception on his return to Lazio for Thursday's Europa League clash in the round of 32, but expects to cause an upset and take a vital first-leg win at the Stadio Olimpico.
The former Argentina international acknowledges that it will be difficult to progress to the next stage as both teams will push for victory, and aim to go all the way in the competition.
“It will be a very hard tie because they are having a good season in both league and cup – knowing Lazio, going a long way in the Europa League will also be a target,” said Simeone according to UEFA.com.
"Today they are a good team, their coach [Edy Reja] has been there a while now and he is doing a good job. He knows the city and club.
"I hope we can repeat our success of 2010 and win but we know it's becoming more and more difficult in the Europa League, because you have very strong teams involved."
Simeone recalls the moment Lazio fans cheered his return from injury for the Biancocelesti, claiming it was one of the best moments of his career.
“There is a strong bond between the fans and me. I had four years at Lazio and one season [2001/02] I struggled with injury. I will never forget the moment I came back from my knee injury and how they welcomed me – it was just amazing,” said Simeone.
“It was a very emotional moment, comparable to becoming champions, and I am eternally grateful. It will be nice to return but we can't really enjoy it. We are going to get a positive result for Atletico."
The first-leg clash on Thursday kicks off at 19.00CET.