Diego Simeone is bracing himself for a tough test when Atletico Madrid travel to the Emirates to face Arsenal in their Europa League semi-final tie. 

The two sides are locking horns for the first time ever in a competitive fixture as they battle it out over two legs for a place in the Europa League final. 

And Simeone, who won the competition during his first season at Atletico in 2011-12, is predicting a difficult match due to Arsenal’s experience on the European stage.  

Diego Simeone says Atletico Madrid are preparing for a tough Europa League semi-final clash

Diego Simeone says Atletico Madrid are preparing for a tough Europa League semi-final clash

Diego Simeone says Atletico Madrid are preparing for a tough Europa League semi-final clash

‘They are a rival with a lot of history in European competition,’ Simeone told Marca. ‘Their current squad is experienced and they have a lot of quality players and a very important manager who has achieved a lot.

‘It will be a tough tie for us but it was always going to be that way at this stage of the competition, which is attritional and tough to win.

‘We must once again show our desire and try to fight for our victory, because this is the most important point of the season and we are hungry for trophies.’  

Arsenal are playing in Europe’s secondary competition for the first time since 1999-2000 and reached the semi-finals after beating CSKA Moscow in the last eight.

Simeone said Arsene Wenger was 'an important manager who has achieved a lot' at Arsenal

Simeone said Arsene Wenger was 'an important manager who has achieved a lot' at Arsenal

Simeone said Arsene Wenger was ‘an important manager who has achieved a lot’ at Arsenal

Atletico meanwhile edged past Sporting Lisbon 2-1 to secure their spot in the semis despite a 1-0 defeat in the second leg in Portugal. 

Simeone’s side began the season in the Champions League but finished third in their group behind Roma and Chelsea to qualify for the Europa League.  

The first leg takes place on April 26 in London with the return match at Atletico’s Wanda Metropolitano Stadium the following Thursday. 

Both sides experienced contrasting fortunes on Sunday with Atletico winning 3-0 against Levante while Arsenal lost 2-1 at Newcastle.

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