News ID: 277154
Published: 0326 GMT November 22, 2020

Simeone praises Atletico spirit after beating Barca

Simeone praises Atletico spirit after beating Barca
SERGIO PEREZ/REUTERS

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone (R) reacts on the touchline during his side’s 1-0 victory over Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain, on November 21, 2020.

Diego Simeone could finally savor a league victory over Barcelona on Saturday in 10 seasons in charge of Atletico Madrid but refused to discuss whether the 1-0 win proved his side was capable of winning La Liga.

The Argentine had enjoyed success over Barca in the Champions League in 2014 and 2016 and this year’s Spanish Super Cup but had never before taken three points off the Catalans since taking charge of Atleti in 2011, Reuters reported.

“We have come very close to beating Barca before, we beat them in Saudi Arabia, we had drawn at their ground and lost by very little here before. Today it was our turn to win, but it won’t change our objectives one bit,” Simeone told reporters.

The coach dismissed comparisons between his current side and the squad which pipped Barca to the Spanish title in 2014 but he did praise his players for how they have kicked on since undergoing deep changes in the summer of 2019.

“The thing we value the most is how the players have grown from last season, they are much more capable of offering what the team needs,” he said.

“The group is in very good shape, I’ve been saying that for a long time and it gives us the belief to keep working hard on what we are doing. Now we must maintain this energy and keep on competing.”

Captain Koke, the only surviving member of that title winning side, did not rule out the prospect of Atletico’s title push entirely, pointing to the early season problems Barca and champion Real Madrid were having.

“The teams at the top are slipping up right now, so why shouldn’t we dream about winning La Liga?” he said.

“But we’re staying calm, because we haven’t achieved anything yet.”

 

Koeman criticism

 

Meanwhile, Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman was incredulous, fiercely criticizing his players for switching off at the end of the first half and allowing Yannick Carrasco to score.

Carrasco made the most of several Barca players being caught out of position when Gerard Pique lost possession in Atletico’s half, latching on to Angel Correa’s pass and rounding keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who had come flying out of his area.

“We just cannot allow ourselves to concede a goal like that,” Koeman told reporters.

“The goal was our mistake, you cannot afford to lose the ball like that and concede a goal so late in the half. It’s always tough to create many chances against Atletico, but when you lose the ball against them you have to do better than that.”

The Dutch coach has lost three of eight league games in charge of Barca and has been beaten by his side’s two biggest rivals, having also lost 3-1 to Real Madrid.

The Catalans, who have won eight of the last 12 league titles, are 10th in the standings and nine points behind second-placed Atletico and leader Real Sociedad.

“I’m not worried about our position in the table or the league title right now, we just need to focus on winning a series of games, that’s what’s most important right now,” Koeman said.

“The coach is the number one person responsible for a team’s results and I have to keep on believing in the players I have. But we have to improve things defensively and in attack.”

Koeman also dismissed suggestions his players or the club’s hierarchy could start to lose faith in him.

“Now is not the time to talk about that, we just have to work hard to improve our results,” he said.

“The players did everything they could until the last second to equalise and we have to maintain that attitude in our next few games.”

 

 

 

   
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