The Uruguayan who leads the stingiest defense in La Liga exuded a winning mentality Monday as he and his Atletico Madrid teammates geared up for the first leg of the Champions League semifinal against Chelsea.
“You have to win,” Diego Godin said in an interview with Agencia EFE. “To win, to win however you can and, if they don’t score goals against you, even better.”
Atletico, last year’s Copa del Rey winner, currently leads La Liga and has a chance to reach the finals of European soccer’s most prestigious club competition for the first time in 40 years.
“We feel we are very close to achieving important things. In a few matches you can win everything, just as you can end up with nothing,” Godin said when asked about the mood in the Atleti dressing room ahead of Tuesday’s match in Madrid.
“I believe it’s necessary to really control the anxiety, really control that impetus to want to play things before they happen, and for that, what Cholo (Atletico coach Diego Simeone) always says, which is a reality: go match to match, final to final,” the defender said.
“Now we have before us a great rival and a tremendous opportunity to do something great,” Godin said. “It’s the dream of all of us and of the people, but knowing ... the difficulty we have ahead of us.”
Atleti has gone five straight matches at Madrid’s Vicente Calderon stadium without giving up a goal, a streak Godin attributes to solid team defense.
“Obviously, the visible heads on defense are always the defenders and (Thibaut) Courtois, the goalkeeper, but I stress the team, because if you look at the Barcelona match you also see how the forwards work,” he said, referring to the decisive second leg of Atletico’s Champions quarterfinal with Barça.
The forwards, Godin insisted, “make an enormous effort to defend and to maintain a tactical order that in the long run is giving us very, very good results.”