Gaizka Mendieta applauds Atletico Madrid after their Copa del Rey win over Sevilla
Last Updated: February 28, 2013 12:45pm
Simeone: has guided Atletico to the Copa del Rey final
Gaizka Mendieta says Atletico Madrid must not be intimidated by Real Madrid's illustrious past when they meet their neighbours in the Copa del Rey final.
Diego Simeone's men set up a showdown with the Spanish capital's more prestigious outfit with a battling semi-final second-leg display at Sevilla.
"Atletico played the perfect game. They scored early and then sat back and waited for the counter-attack."
First-half goals from Diego Costa and Radamel Falcao put Los Rojiblancos in control of the tie, given their 2-1 first-leg win at the Estadio Vicente Calderón, and, despite strikes from Jesus Navas and Ivan Rakitic pulling Sevilla level on the night, Atletico progressed 4-3 on aggregate.
They'll now meet Jose Mourinho's men in the final in May and, although Atletico have failed to get the better of Los Blancos in 24 meetings since 1999, Mendieta told Sky Sports HD that anything is possible in a one-off match.
"It's going to be a brilliant game becuase I don't think [Atletico have an inferiority complex]." said the former midfielder, who lifted the Copa del Rey in 1999 with Valencia.
"History says Real have always been better but when you play a final it is a completely different game; it doesn't really matter what you've done during the season, it's about 90 minutes and how you get ready physically and mentally for that.
"We also can't forget Simeone is Atletico's manager and I'm sure he's going to work really hard on the final and try to win it."
The ex-Lazio, Barcelona and Middlesbrough man expects the encounter to be a fascinating one tactically, given that both teams are currently set up to excel on the counter-attack.
"Atletico will feel more comfortable with Real having the ball and probably the same goes for Real, so it's going to be interesting," he said.
"If anything Real have got better players in midfield to be able to keep the ball - but that will allow Atletico to counter-attack."
Reflecting on the semi-final second leg at Sevilla's Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Mendieta felt the homeside shot themselves in the foot with some poor defending in the first half and were then unable to trouble Atletico's well-organised backline to turn the tie.
"The weakest point for Sevilla was their defenders," he said. "It was difficult against these two great strikers, Falcao and Diego Costa, but I think Sevilla could have done better.
"Sevilla then tried harder in the second half but they didn't play the way they should have done to break down the Atletico defence.
"Atletico, though, played the perfect game. They scored early and then sat back and waited for the counter-attack; Sevilla had chances but I don't think the Atletico defence really felt threatened.
"The Navas goal was brilliant to get them back into the game but the Atletico defence was always quite comfortable and never really had any questions asked of them."