Simeone wary ahead of knockout stages

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has played down his team's chances of going far in the Champions League knockout stages.

Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid

Atletico are in the draw for the last 16 of the competition for the first time in five years, having finished top of Group G unbeaten and with 16 points, a total only matched by local rivals Real Madrid.

Even with top spot guaranteed and fielding a team containing seven non-regular starters, Atletico defeated Porto 2-0 at the Vicente Calderon to add extra shine to what has been an excellent European campaign.

Los Rojiblancos will be seeded in Monday's draw and could be drawn against Premier League sides Arsenal or Manchester City.

But when asked in the post-match press conference which teams he would like to avoid the most, the Argentinian coach insisted: "We don't consider ourselves to be better than anyone else.

"Any knockout tie is always going to be very close and there are many teams in the competition with more experience than us.

"Looking at the teams who have finished second, there is a lot of quality. We are looking forward to seeing who we get but whoever it is we know it will be difficult."

He also praised his team's strength in depth, adding: "What makes me very happy is that I was able to rotate my team and rest players but we kept the same intensity and did what we have been doing all season."

Porto, meanwhile, exit the Champions League and drop into the Europa League, a competition they won in 2011 under the guidance of the now Tottenham manager Andre Villas-Boas.

Current coach Paulo Fonseca rued his team's luck on a night on which they struck the frame of the goal four times, while Josue saw his penalty saved by Dani Aranzubia.

He admitted Atletico were worthy winners, saying: "It's true we hit the post four times and missed a penalty, but we weren't strong in defence, and Atletico were.

"We caused them problems, but they were more efficient."

The Portuguese champions managed just a solitary win - away to Austria Vienna - in their six games and Fonseca did not hide his disappointment with their campaign.

"We are not satisfied with our performance in the competition, we have not been good enough," he said.

"Not just because of what happened tonight, but in the tournament as a whole, especially our results at home."



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