Quique S. Flores: “Scoring away from home would be important”

“We’re approaching the Cup with our morale sky high”

Quique Sánchez Flores made it very clear that he’s not overconfident after the first leg result (1-0) over Espanyol. He’s aware that if Atlético de Madrid shows the defensive firmness from recent matches that qualification will be near, although he respects the Catalan side. He confirmed the absence of Forlán due to injury and that he still won’t have Elías available because his transfer hasn’t arrived. And he was pleased about Agüero’s contract extension.

The ‘rojiblanco’ manager began by highlighting that scoring away from home when you don’t concede at home would be important in these types of tournaments. That’s one of the bases of the qualifying tie. In any case, it’s going to be a tough stadium against a confident team that will makes things difficult on us from start to finish.”

Concerning the clean sheet from the first leg, he stated that “it makes things easier but isn’t decisive. It’s one of your goals in a two-leg tie. Espanyol is a team that scores goals at home, that creates chances, and that will force us to be focused. One of our identity signs is to not give up many goals and that’s very important, but we have to stay alert because our opponent is a side that makes good vertical runs, that looks for passes in behind the defence and that entails maximum concentration.”

Regarding the situation of Reyes and Forlán, the manager acknowledged that “Reyes will be ready but Forlán won’t because he’s still feeling problems. I don’t want to repeat the story of bringing him back too early and then having him get injured again and wasting time. We want him back at one-hundred percent and when he’s ready he’ll come back. On Tuesday he showed that he’s a great professional by wanting to be here and put his boots back on, but he’s having difficulties and we can’t allow that because he’s one of the players that we need at his top physical form.”

Continuing on this topic and how it affects the game plan, he stated that “last season Forlán played in all of the decisive matches, almost without exception, and so this makes things tough, but we have a squad with other solutions that can face the match differently. We’ve also earned good results when Diego hasn’t been there. We have to try to make his absence as unnoticeable as possible, though due to the individual talent of certain individuals it’s hard to replace them.”

The coach made it clear, concerning Elías, that “I’m counting on him but I can’t play him yet because his transfer hasn’t gone through. The Club is working on it hard but right now he’s unable to play.”

He’s aware that the path in the Cup is different than last year. “If we get past Espanyol we’d face Madrid, and after that Valencia, Villarreal or Sevilla. We’re very aware of the difficulty of this Copa del Rey. Just as we’re aware that what happened last year won’t be repeated for another 40 years. Our morale is sky high because that’s how we’ve approached the competition. If it goes well, then fantastic because we’d surely face an opponent that motivates all Atlético supporters and we want that derby. If we were to fall to one of the best teams in our league right now, we’d be left with the main goal of qualifying for Champions League.”

Quique was pleased with Kun Agüero’s contract extension. “It’s great that he signed the extension because it means that Agüero understands that Atlético de Madrid is a grand Club and that he’s very comfortable and happy with his teammates and his fans and that’s fantastic. It’s a piece of great news for Atlético de Madrid. This is the best possible news this week, that Agüero will be here at Atlético de Madrid for five more years. I think it’s wonderful.”

There was time to speak about Koke and his debut this season in an official match. “It wasn’t a surprise that it went well because he’s a guy to plays well.  He feels the Club, he plays good football, he’s more than committed, he’s confident of his coaching staff and is comfortable in the first squad. It was clear to us that this lad had to stay here and have the chance in the event that things went the way they have gone. We’re very satisfied with Koke’s performance.”

To finish, he touched on Agüero’s debut as captain against Racing. The manager asserted that “we decided on that but always speaking with the person who came before him, Perea, a player who has always been captain but never got the chance in a game. And since Perea understands that it is much more that Agüero has earned it than that he has lost it, we decided to name him captain. Kun was crazy about being name captain and is delighted with the situation, so that’s great. As long as there are winners and no losers, it’s all in our benefit.”