Quique S. Flores: 'Espanyol will come to Madrid with wounded pride'

“We’d love to make it to the final, but only two teams get there”

Quique Sánchez Flores has forgotten about the incident against Espanyol with Luis García and prefers to focus on the footballing aspect of the fixture between the two teams. The manager acknowledged that that is in the past and forgotten. We can’t repeat things that we saw. The incident with Luis García is in the past. He’s a player that I wanted to sign for Valencia and Benfica and I know how he is both personally and professionally. We both criticized our actions and will share a hug. Everything has been buried and forgotten. We’re really looking forward to playing in the Copa del Rey. Last year we experienced this competition intensely, with joy, and we’re facing a team that is in fine form.”

The manager of the ‘rojiblanco’ squad recalled the league match against Espanyol and stated that “they’ll come to the Calderón to play the same way as in that game. We have to improve two or three aspects and also have a change of luck because we had lots of chances. We’ve seen positive things in La Liga and we have to see more of those things. The players are very focused. It’s going to be a nice, exciting match. Things are back to normal. There was a moment of crisis that we were able to control.”

Atlético de Madrid lost to Espanyol 2-3 and the coaching staff has analysed that game quite a bit. They also watched the Catalan side’s loss to Barcelona. Quique believes that “we can look at that loss from two perspectives. A first one says that we were bad and the other says that we were playing against an incredible team. I prefer the last option. I think that Espanyol is an intelligent side in which the players, the manager and the directors function very well. They played a big game against Barcelona and will come to Madrid with their pride wounded.

Regarding the current state of his squad, Quique assured that “after the match against Levante I said that we had to recover our defensive system, to be a solid team that gets shot on infrequently, as we have the quality to associate well. The last match was very good defensively. We kept a clean sheet, and are regaining our confidence.”

Concerning Diego Forlán, Quique highlighted that “we’ll have to see his progress, as he’s been ill. He’s not at 100% and we’ll have to see if he’s gotten better; that’s why there are 19 players on the list. We rested him against Málaga because he had come off of three straight matches in which he’d given a huge effort.”

Tthe ‘rojiblanco’ head coach also analysed the signing of Brazilian Elías and said that “I’m not the sports director and I don’t have thorough knowledge, but what’s clear is that he hasn’t just come on a whim. I know that he’s a player who can play in the middle and out wide, can run back-and-forth and controls the ball well. Furthermore, he’s international with Brazil and that’s enough of a guarantee to play at a big club such as Atlético de Madrid.”

To finish, Quique spoke about the possibility of making it to the Copa del Rey final. “We’d love to make it back to the Cup final, as everything we experienced that day in Barcelona exceeded all else on an emotional level. It transcended all of the situations that we’d experienced, including those that we were going to go through later in the European Super Cup final. It was incredibly emotional. We want to make it to the final, but only two teams get there and there are very good teams left. We have to be ambitious and cautious.”