KEIR RADNEDGE in LISBON: Atletico de Madrid Diego Simeone admitted after the 4-1 Champions League Final defeat here in Lisbon by Real that he made a mistake in starting Diego Costa.

The new Spanish champions’ top scorer had suffered a muscle strain a week earlier against Barcelona but appeared to have recovered when Simeone put his men through their paces on the eve of the final.

Within a few minutes, however, it was clear that Simeone and Costa had underestimated the extent of the injury.

Simeone said later: “It was my responsibility to have him play and obviously I made a mistake because he wasn’t as well as he seemed to be the day before. We just looked at each other and we knew we could not afford to waste any more of the game so we brought him off straight away.”

Costa’s exit was costly on two fronts. Firstly, Atletico had no striker of comparable ability or style to bring on in his place; secondly, the change cost Simeone a ‘fresh legs’ possibility which could have been valuable later when the game ran into extra time.


Simeone also conceded that the match did not run according to plan, even though Atletico took a first-half lead through Diego Godin.

The Argentinian said: “You have to look at it overall. Real Madrid were better in the second half and kept us in our half of the pitch. We couldn’t get out and that’s very difficult to deal with against such a team.

“Still, the support we’ve had this season from so many people make you realise there’s more to football than just winning matches. I’ve told my there is no need to cry because the way they played they have every right to hold their heads high – and think about the league next season.

“I’m not sad but bitter that I didn’t reach the objective many people expected. I wish I could have won the way I wanted but football is like life: one day you have everything, another day you may have nothing but you just have to keep going.”

Keeping going, for Simeone, means rebuilding his team for the Liga title defence next season which, almost certainly, will mean without Diego Costa and sure-handed goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.

Outward bound

Both are bound for Chesea – Costa for around £40m and Courtois aftr the end of his loan to the Colchoneros.

Simeone said: “On Monday I’ll sit down together with the managenemt and start preparing for next season – who is coming in, who is leaving, what the possibilities are for new players.

“Once we’ve completed that part of te work – which is for the sports management side – we’ll have a break with our familieis, watch the World Cup and then excitedly prepare to start the new league . . . which we only just won a week ago.”