Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has spoken of his satisfaction after his team qualified for the knockout stages of the Europa League with a game to spare.
Los Colchoneros enjoyed a narrow 1-0 victory over Hapoel Tel Aviv at the Vicente Calderon on Friday, with Raul Garcia grabbing the only goal after just seven minutes.
"First of all, today we have taken a step forward, because we are again in the knockout stage," Simeone was quoted as saying by Marca. "It is not a minor detail. "We gave responsibility and minutes to many players who do not play very often, and you have to give them credit, because it is they who have put us in the next stage and the situation is beneficial for everyone.
"It is normal that our fans always want to see the players they like the most, but I have to try to find the best balance in order for us to have a successful season."
The former Argentina midfielder went on to stress the importance of Los Colchoneros' blitz start to the game, and reserved special praise for striker Adrian Lopez.
"We started well and found a goal against a team that fielded five defenders," said the 42-year-old. "We did not have the necessary intensity and aggresiveness in the last minutes to close out the game a little better. Adrian, however, tried really hard and had a very good game.
Simeone also discussed Atletico's challenging run of upcoming Liga fixtures, which sees it tackle Sevilla, Real Madrid and Barcelona amongst others in its next six games.
"The further we go in the competition, the more difficult it becomes," he continued. "The demands continue to grow and we want to continue playing each game with humility so that we know what where we stand and how we can improve."
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