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Koke excited by Champions League challenge

1 August 2013 17:16

Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke is relishing the chance to play in the UEFA Champions League for the first time this season.

Diego Simeone's side will play in the group stages of the tournament after their third-place finish in La Liga last term.

Atletico make their return to Europe's premier cup competition for the first time since 2009, and although they have achieved UEFA Europa League success twice the 21-year-old cannot to play to get started.

"I want to play it," he told Spanish newspaper AS. "I have spoken with others who have played it and I have said that is something spectacular.

"They have told me that you have to experience it several times and I hope to be the first of many of them."

After their successful league campaign and Copa del Rey triumph in 2012-13, the midfielder knows Atletico will have to deal with increased expectations this season, and is confident they are capable of handling them.

"The demands will be much greater now and people will ask, as a minimum, to be third," he added.

"One thing we have to remember (is) to take it game by game, but our main goal is to enter Champions League (again).

"Fighting for the league will be tough but it is everyone's intention that the club continues to grow."

Koke made 33 appearances for Atletico last season as they achieved their highest league finish in 17 years.

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