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Champions League – Atlético Madrid – Thomas Lemar: “I will show what I am worth to the coach”

You are coming out of a trying month of March, undermined by injuries and the Covid-19… Was it hard to overcome?

Thomas Lemar: Things are much better. I’m happy to have taken over, to have been able to rejoin the group. I have a mine of the beautiful days. I try to find the rhythm little by little.

You lost the Champions League quarter-final first leg 1-0 to Manchester City, but Atlético are never as good as against the wall…

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TL: It’s always been that way. But we’re not going to lie to each other, even we scare each other from time to time. Even if we know that we can change the situation of the match at any time, we would have preferred not to be scared in certain matches. And there were quite a few (laughs)

What do you say to people who criticized Atlético’s style of play after the first leg?

TL: I have nothing to say to them. Just look at the statistics since the coach (Diego Simeone since 2011, editor’s note) arrived. It may not look pretty, but it works. Atlético wins, and that’s the most important thing

But how does Diego Simeone hope to qualify?

Since last year, you have found a more axial role, which suits you better…

TL: I had a discussion with the coach last year, when I started to find my feet in the team. I have a role more suited to my style, which has facilitated my integration into the style of play at Atlético. It suits me well

How have you dealt with Simeone’s high standards since your arrival in 2018?

TL: This worker side, I already had it before. But I continued to work more on my negative points, which became positive points… It is especially in the defensive field. In recovering the ball, in defensive withdrawals. On that, I worked a lot. It allowed me to expand my palette. Now I’m a more complete player than before

The World? I’ve always had this goal in mind

Is this your best season at Atlético?

TL: Statistically, I would say yes. And collectively, I would choose last season, since we ended up champions (of Spain, editor’s note)

In La Liga, Atlético is currently 4th, followed by one point by Betis Sevilla. For you, will the season be successful if you grab a place for the C1?

TL: I would say it will be a good season. I speak as a competitor, because I always want to win, to finish as high as possible. With the poor form at the start of the season, if we manage to rank a little higher, it would be a good season

Since last summer, you have found a comrade of the France team in club, Antoine Griezmann. What relationship do you have?

TL: Antoine and I have a great bond. I get on very well with him on and off the pitch. The fact that he came back to us already touched me a lot, but so did the club. Admittedly, he was trained at Real Sociedad, but he is still a child of the club, someone who has proven himself at Atlético Madrid. And he remains a very great player. I’m sure he will help us at the end of the season

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Personally, injuries have taken you away from the France team a little lately. The Blues won the League of Nations without you in the fall… Was it frustrating?

TL: If I play football, it’s to win titles. Of course, I was happy that the France team won this trophy, but of course, not being there, it stings. But hey, it’s part of football

Last year, you announced that your goal was to go to the Euro. This year, what is your goal?

TL: It’s going to the World Cup. It’s a big goal for me. Yes, I was removed from the last selections by physical glitches, but I always had this objective in mind, to be part of the list for the World Cup. Afterwards, all the players are important, so it’s up to me to show what I’m worth, to show my value to the coach

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