With his Atletico Madrid side set to open their European campaign in St Petersburg on Wednesday, the trainer was hesitant to trump up his team's chances
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone believes that Zenit St Petersburg’s familiarity with the Champions League makes them favourites to progress the knock-out stages, ahead of their group stage clash on Wednesday.
Los Colchoneros will welcome the Russian outfit to the Vicente Calderon to open Group G and Simeone believes that their opponents' experience and financial clout will give them the advantage in the group.
"Zenit and maybe Porto are favourites in the group because of the experience they have at this level. If you don't focus out on the pitch they will create problems," the Argentine told reporters.
"Zenit are a big club with financial power and a side ready to be a great team in Europe. Any errors committed tomorrow will be punished."
However, though Simeone was quick to preach caution for his side, he still maintained hope of a result against Luciano Spalletti’s big-spending outfit should his side execute their gameplan effectively.
"We are still growing," he added. "If we play with humility and as a team we have a chance. I'm not nervous because day by day we are getting better offensively.
"We play a little differently to how they normally play in Spain, and by that I mean we play in a way that could be closer to Italian football. We are improving in the transition from defence to attack. We need to adapt to new situations and we know that a Champions League game is unique."
With forward Diego Costa suspended from Wednesday’s match, Simeone also touched the possible inclusion of forward Adrian Lopez, who was close to leaving the club to Monaco during the summer.
"If Lopez comes in for Diego Costa, that doesn’t mean we are going to play a 4-4-2," Simeone continued. "He hasn't played many minutes in the opening games, but he is a player who can make the necessary jump in quality for a match like this.
"He is training well and had a great pre-season. He is good at combination play and has all the characteristics to play this type of game."