Today I would say it is a piece of s*** - Gabi eager to avoid Europa League
Atletico Madrid captain Gabi is desperate for his underachieving team to reach the knockout phase of the Champions League, claiming the Europa League "is a piece of s***" in comparison.
Diego Simeone's side have been poor in Europe this season and are in danger of being eliminated from the Champions League, with Atletico's three-point haul in Group C significantly less than Chelsea on seven and Roma on eight.
The latest disappointment came in the form of a 1-1 draw at home to Azerbaijan's Qarabag on Tuesday and, with just two matches left to play, they look set to drop down into the Europa League.
Atleti won that competition in 2009-10 and 2011-12 and Gabi acknowledged the second of those triumphs, which he played in after returning from Real Zaragoza, gave him "a lot".
But at the moment, the idea of swapping the Champions League for UEFA's second-tier tournament is not a thrilling prospect.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) October 31, 2017
"Today I would say it [the Europa League] is a piece of s***," Gabi told reporters.
"But the Europa League has given me a lot, and if we have to play it, we will [play to] win it.
"I think that now the chances of [qualifying] are very remote. We are disappointed, we have to be self-critical because we have not been able to win any of the two matches at Qarabag."
It was put to Gabi that Diego Costa – who will be available for selection in January after signing from Chelsea – might make a difference, with Atletico struggling in attack.
But Gabi dismissed the question, insisting the team needs to improve soon, otherwise the introduction of Costa will not matter.
"We need to win now," he added. "Diego cannot help us now and if we continue like this, the arrival of Diego will not be useful at all."