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|Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone looking forward to Lazio reunion|
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone is expecting a warm reception when he leads his side out against Lazio in Thursday’s Europa League knock-out tie in Rome.
The former Lazio player has fond memories of his time with the Biancocelesti, highlighting the moment when the fans cheered for him upon his return from a lengthy injury lay-off.
"There is a strong bond between the fans and me. I had four years at Lazio and one season (2001/02) I struggled with injury. I will never forget the moment I came back from my knee injury and how they welcomed me - it was just amazing," Simeone was quoted as saying on UEFA.com.
"It was a very emotional moment, comparable to becoming champions, and I am eternally grateful.”
However, the former Catania boss is unfazed by his club’s objective when taking to the pitch at Rome’s Stadio Olimpico.
“It will be nice to return but we can't really enjoy it. We are going to get a positive result for Atletico."
Simeone feels that the Italian side pose a significant obstacle in his side's bid to qualify for the last 16 of Europe’s second-tier competition, claiming that they could go all the way.
"It will be a very hard tie because they are having a good season in both league and cup - knowing Lazio, going a long way in the Europa League will also be a target," Simeone said.
"Today they are a good team, their coach (Edy Reja) has been there a while now and he is doing a good job. He knows the city and club."
"I hope we can repeat our success of 2010 and win but we know it's becoming more and more difficult in the Europa League, because you have very strong teams involved."
Atletico Madrid will entertain Lazio in the second leg to be played on February 23.