Atlético Madrid defender José Giménez has revealed that the widespread belief they would lose to Liverpool motivated them to secure their surprise win at Anfield.
The Spanish side took on the reigning European champions at Anfield in the second-leg of their Champions League last sixteen midway through March.
They headed to Merseyside on the back of a 1-0 surprise victory in Spain but with many predicting Jürgen Klopp’s side to turn things around in the second leg.
Instead, Atlético pulled off a shock 3-2 win, with goals from Marco Llorente and Álvaro Morata securing a 3-2 victory.
And according to Giménez, their efforts were motivated by a desire to prove their doubters wrong.
“A lot of people thought we would be knocked out,” he revealed in a video on Atlético’s official website.
“But we always believed and listened to the people who did believe in us. We fought with the strength of all those people.
“I’ve got to say that I also thought we would qualify, especially with how we played at home.
“People thought we wouldn’t qualify, and I think that’s one of the things that motivated us the most.”
While Giménez insists he was confident of progress, he also admitted that watching the game was an anxious affair for him.
The defender started the game on the game, coming on in extra time as Diego Simeone’s side looked to close out the game.
It meant he suffered alongside the rest of the fans, with Roberto Firmino’s goal in the 94th minute, which put Liverpool 2-0 up, only helping to make him more nervous.
“The night before you’re very anxious and nervous. We knew it would be a very difficult match,” he added.
Liverpool showed how good they were also when they played in Spain. They were on the ball all the time, and we controlled them well.
“We knew that, with their fans’ support, we would suffer over there. But we have an incredible, young team that gives us the strength to fight.
“At first (I felt) a lot of anxiousness, especially if you’re not playing and just watching the game.
“Even more so when we conceded two goals, at that point, you become nervous.
“But then we started to score our goals, we calmed down and started to enjoy things. We were so happy. It was incredible. We celebrated because it was a very hard-fought win.”