Diego Pablo Simeone addressed the press after defeating Barcelona for the first time in the league as Atlético’s coach. The Argentine coach was enthusiastic about the dynamics in which his team is.
Has a weight been lifted off your shoulders with this victory? Are they favorites to the title?
Soccer is game by game. Sometimes we have to win and sometimes lose, in the last games we had always been close to winning, beyond Arabia in the Super Cup. Today we had to win, that does not change the route of what is sought. I am very happy with the team’s effort, understanding what was convenient for us, placing ourselves in the two offensive and defensive facets in different ways and it was understood very well. There were very nice plays, like Llorente’s, which could have been a goal. Both appeared and allowed us to play calmly to look for the second, which happened to us and Barcelona always has the option of winning the game.
They have found the streak of results and play.
The group is very good, I have been saying it for a long time. It gives us hope to be complicit in what is wanted and when there is a communion between the idea and the execution, the most beautiful thing appears, which is to give everything for the team. We see it in players like Hermoso or Herrera, who played less last year. Now we need that energy to keep competing, that on Wednesday there is a very tough game that we have to keep fighting.
Do you see any similarities to the year they won the league?
No, I don’t see them.
Do they have room for improvement?
Sure, because the most important thing we value about the growth of footballers from last season to this one is seen. We are working better in the field, we are being more complicit to share what the team needs and we see. We need everyone, Felipe, who played much more continuously last season, Lodi, who will surely be important Kondogbia enters little by little, Saúl is taking the best form, Correa is showing extraordinary growth, not to mention João Félix or Costa’s enthusiasm when he entered. The group generates enthusiasm for me, because I see them wanting to look for important things in game by game.
Carrasco played almost as a lane.
Vitolo executed that position against Osasuna, Saúl against Cádiz and today we are thinking of Carrasco. Have a more structured structure with Hermoso, Giménez and Savic and the team shows alternatives to grow. Having Llorente as he runs, Saúl breaking, Koke in the game on the inside with Carrasco and Trippier up in the middle and with Correa and João at the top. I think the team plays to win, which is what we always seek.
Did you expect another Barcelona?
That is a question for the Barcelona coach. I talk about what I always expect from them and he approached the best games he played, in Turin he had a similar version reinforcing the medium so as not to leave people off the hook. The two teams were looking in the middle of the court and then holding the ball to try to break offensively. We take an important game.
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What did you like the most about this triumph?
The work the group does. Each proposal that I make to them, they execute it as a team and that generates more chances of winning.
Today the proposal was slightly different, defending with five.
Also in Pamplona we played with Vitolo in the band, against Cádiz Saúl did it as a lane … We have been showing it in other games and this time it was Carrasco’s turn. He understood that compensating like this we had the possibility to defend well and attack as we wanted.
It seems that what Atleti wanted was played.
The two teams defensively proposed the same thing, defending low, reducing spaces … We took refuge by distributing the efforts to be organized and then, with the ball, the team proposed to go out. There were occasions and Carrasco’s goal arrived, which gave us peace of mind in the game in the second half.
They have 24 games without losing in the league.
The footballers are the key, they are the ones who generate from the illusion, the passion and feel complicit in what is proposed and thus it grows. Last year we had a good season, especially the finale and we have continued to grow since the quarantine. We have marked a very good path.
Is Koke in his prime?
There are many guys who play well, Savic, Giménez, Hermoso, Herrera, Saúl back, Carrasco is decisive, Lemar is hooked, Costa participates and gives what it takes, João, Trippier plays everything … The group is fine, they are strong and hopefully we continue to compete with each other. Felipe, Lodi did not play today … when it is their turn they have to respond
This victory knows better knowing that it is the first in the league.
We had not won, yes, although we were very close more than once, especially last season, at 0-1 and at 2-2.
Why not go for the League?
It does not alter my thinking, neither the good nor the bad. In football we depend on what we do in the Champions League and the focus goes quickly there. Then again in the League.