Atletico Madrid forward Antoine Griezmann want to win the UEFA Champions League this after missing out on the ultimate in 2016 against archrivals Real Madrid. He also denies claims about being in contact with Real Madrid to replace Ronaldo at the Bernabeu

It’s Champions League week. How often do you dream about lifting that trophy?
Really often. When I see the Champions League trophy, I think: The next one’s mine. We didn’t have a good campaign last season.

It was the key clashes against Qarabag, a side much weaker than Atlético, where you came unstuck…
In European football you know that any team can make life difficult for you. I wasn’t at my best, and that didn’t help the team.

Does that make you all the more determined to do well in this season’s Champions League?
It’s not so much that I’m any more determined; it’s more a case of having more confidence in myself. Last year, I wasn’t myself in the Champions League. But this year I feel great. The final is at the Wanda Metropolitano and that means every home game will be an incredible occasion.

Which trophy would you choose: LaLiga or the Champions League?
The Champions League, without a shadow of a doubt.

Let’s talk about Atlético’s rivals. Real Madrid have lost Cristiano Ronaldo…
He’s taken a lot of goals with him, because he would score 40 or 50 a year. But it has also freed up [Gareth] Bale and [Karim] Benzema. They’ve got a great team. In the crunch moments they’ll maybe feel Cristiano’s absence, but they’re a top side and we’ve already seen the kind of form Bale and Benzema have started the season in.

Meanwhile, Barcelona have lost Andrés Iniesta. What kind of shape do they look in to you?
[Ousmane] Dembélé has made a good start to the season, [Lionel] Messi is the same old Messi, and the same goes for [Luis] Suárez… When I look at them I see a strong side that have made good signings, that have strengthened their midfield with the arrivals of [Arturo] Vidal, Arthur and other players.

And what about Atlético? Two club legends have departed in Gabi and Fernando Torres, but you’ve brought in some proven operators…
When there are a lot of new players, it’s tougher to begin with in LaLiga, because until they settle into our system it’s not easy for them. Now we have to look onwards and upwards. What happened in Vigo [where Atlético were beaten 2-0 at the start of September] only serves to motivate us all the more, and we have to have confidence in this team.

Real Madrid showed interest in Lucas Hernández, but he gave them short shrift…
Lucas is really happy here. He knows that he has room to improve and has everything he needs here to do just that – and be a big player for Atlético. He had a fantastic World Cup and hopefully he’s got a great year ahead of him. We need him; he’s a really important player for us.

For a few days, it was rumoured that Real could go after you. You would certainly have been a worthy replacement for the departed Cristiano…
I couldn’t tell you anything about that. Before the World Cup I’d already said: That’s that. There hasn’t been any contact with anyone.


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