Diego Simeone, coach of the Atlético de Madrid, gave an interview to ESPN
after also passing through the microphones of Radio La Red.
“It is a very beautiful moment, after seven years we managed to win again but it is not only the objective that we see, winning, but everything that led us to be able to repeat this. It has much more volume and improves everything that was worked to get to this moment ”.
“The truth is that this season was very difficult for everyone. The world is complicated, societies suffer and Spain is no exception. COVID touched us, on the way Filomena, of the 23 footballers we had, 21 had coronavirus and it caught us in January, in February, it happened to everyone, not just us. But this club, the history of this club is based on effort, endurance, and that this year we will be champion has more value. We are used to the powerful winners almost always and this will generate the possibility for the club to continue growing. I remember when I arrived, in 2011, my words: I want people to feel identified with the history of this club. Always fierce, counter-striker, let collective work prevail. At the farewell to the Calderón I had to speak and people did not know if I was staying or leaving. I said I was staying and I said why, because I understood that there was a future. There is a great management based on the results and it always gives us the possibility of being better. Before we were champion every 25 years, then we went down to 18 and now we are already at seven. It makes us happy, there is a lot of work behind me, people who don’t go out, who work every day fighting and searching ”.
The great first round of the team
“It was extraordinary, I knew that reaching a hundred was almost impossible. The second round was tough. Barcelona was bad, then it was good except when they had to beat Granada, who did not succeed. Madrid made an extraordinary second round, with the same defeats as us, only four. That raises the team’s work much more this year ”.
Above Real Madrid and Barcelona
“I want to tell people why one always says that it is more difficult to be champion at Atleti. In Argentina there are River and Boca who always win and Racing from time to time. In France, normally the champion is PSG, this year it is Lille. Bayern wins in Germany. England is the most even of all. But Madrid and Barça are in LaLiga every year and to beat them you have to do it very well, but very well, because there are two of them every year. Do you know how many players we have from seven years to today that we were champion again? One. When last year there was a transition because footballers whose legacy began to shape what the club is today, that legacy was already there, the Gabi, Godín, Costa… ”.
It always looks firm, does it never fall off?
“We all have our moments. I always say that when you have to lose you have to feel defeat because if you don’t, you won’t know how to enjoy victory. I am in a place where I have to drive and manage. And the most difficult job of coaches is management, and I have people who observe me directly and know that from what I can transmit they move. I found a group of talented footballers who have grown a lot from last season to this. Los Hermoso, Lemar, after two years people said: “It doesn’t hook, it doesn’t hook.” We showed that we could win in different ways. Not only with a 4-4-2, with a 5-3-2, a 3-4-3, as it suited us depending on the game. I smile when they call us defensive. We played with Koke as a low midfielder, with Lemar on the left, with Llorente, with Trippier, more offensive than defensive, Carrasco … We do understand that no matter how much you have talent, you have to have work to get where you want to go ”.
Do you keep a proper name?
“I cannot give just one, it would be unfair to all the others. But there were important pillars. Savic’s championship was impressive, Oblak had great personal growth, Koke’s personality to play in the middle of the court, Correa with the humility he has, the job…, who played all 38 games of the championship. In one passage he could not find the goal. “Don’t be angry, nothing happens, you have goal situations, when you calm down you will have it.” And it appeared in the important part, the day of Valladolid. And what about Luis Suárez. It was difficult for Hermoso to adapt to what we asked of her last season, and she agreed to get involved and give herself to what we asked of her ”.
The hydration break before Osasuna
“What I told him is what I felt at the time. I saw that the only way to turn was by playing and it is clear that anxiety was not leading anywhere. I wanted to convey reassurance that they were fine. The first part had been good, to win, the only thing lacking was forcefulness. And it was them. He was speaking before the game about the ‘Suarez Zone’ and Suárez up to that time had had three that he hadn’t put in, rare for him, and he appeared there, because there are soccer players with a wand and he is one. He came with difficulties due to his departure from Barcelona, with the rebellion of a 20-year-old boy, wanting revenge, to show people that he was there, that he was admirable. He is someone used to winning and came to a team that wants to win. And when that happened I said to myself: “This year is looking good.”
Criticism of the style of play
“I am very respectful of all opinions and football is fantastic. We will never agree. Everyone has their own thinking. I always try to go after what the players ask of me. This championship there on the sixth date we put Hermoso at the center and released the band with Carrasco, who gave us a lot of play. The players later became comfortable with this. And societies appear. Correa-Llorente, Trippier. Another Carrasco, Lemar and Hermoso. Gimenez, Savic and Koke. And the societies are seeing each other, we as coaches have to accompany them. The search is the greatest thing, having an idea and doing what one feels, criticism will always be there because it also makes us think, on some occasions, when it is good ”.
“It happened because I really like how Germany works at the national team level, always seeking to grow, the way to always approach the final stages, always semi-finals, finals. And perseverance is what took us again to be able to repeat a championship. And that’s what makes me most happy. There are fans who get bored of always seeing my face, but if you win, it changes. I felt that this season we had to win something, people get bored of everything, because we are like that and I knew we had to win. Luckily we won again in a year with many difficulties, with dead family and friends, fans who are not there and the joy that we were able to give at least to our own on a day like Saturday makes me very happy ”.
“I have one more year on my contract, I am fine, very happy and our players are at a very good age. Real Madrid and Barcelona are going to have to go through the transition that we had to go through years ago and in our case we have to keep in balance ”.
Luis Suárez and his anger when he was substituted
“Imagine a star who leaves the team, he will always come out angry, or with him because he thinks he could do more, or with me because he does not understand the change. I talk to him a lot and tell him that the decisions are tremendously decisive. The analysts will write according to what happens at the end of the game, we have to do it as the game is happening, without knowing the end. When the team was winning, they understood that, with João Félix, Correa and more with Costa, there were other players to run into space. We chatted about it and I ran into a man. I had already spoken with him when he was in Liverpool, younger in case he could come, he chose Barcelona, he was not wrong and he broke it. When the option came up, the club called me and I said, are you serious? Let’s go for it. I called him and told him we need to win and so do you. When people are in need, it usually turns out well ”.
The touch of Bilardo
“I have a lot of respect for Carlos. I made my debut in the national team in 1988 and learned to compete, because many footballers have talent, but few do. Competing with the voracity to win is not done by everyone, you choose the least effort, you get tired … and with him as a coach I played in 5-3-2 and the possibility of growing as a footballer in different positions, the firmness of convincing footballers , make them grow … he did it, he left us a legacy that is marking you. From the coach’s side as well, the locker room management, I had very good coaches like Basile, who spoke the Coco and gave you goose bumps and they are men who within what happened to me was very young and was a sponge and I grabbed and I consumed things and I got Bilardo and Basile. I don’t know what would have happened with Menotti or Guardiola, but that’s what I got.
Argentine national team
“I know that at some point it will happen, but I don’t know when.”
Your improvement as a coach
“Today’s players are very smart. They do not have the same traits that we had before. They live in another world and if we do not adapt to what they live we are lost. What they need is, first, to understand what to play, when you understand it you feel much stronger and we propose one thing a week and end the training and they ask you. The coaches have grown a lot and the players demand it of you, they observe you and question you and the talks are nourishing, my head is very open because I don’t have the absolute truth, but there is a point where you play what I like ” .
“You don’t know what João plays. We have talked a lot of times, he tells me that we always end up talking about the same thing. It is time of maturation and he has a tremendous talent. As a coach, I get confused when I can’t get the best out of him as it happened until January, because he has it, he has a job and he’s very intelligent, he knows what’s going on around him. What you have to do is the Chelsea game, that’s what I want. Work, play when you are winning and losing, running, not leaving the game, not playing only when the team attacks because he has it. I told him at that game. And as he did, that fight continues. You have to find the best of him because he is very important to us ”.
“We have not discussed the issue. He is breaking it in River, it makes me happy, his growth has been tremendous and I hope he has the best paths to continue traveling ”.
The death of Maradona
“It was very hard, because there are certain people who we believe that they will never die, that they will be eternal, that they will be even if they do not accompany us, but it was hard and sad. See a reality, Maradona died. It seemed to Diego that it couldn’t happen. Much affection with the family and the best memories with him when I was very young, in Seville he was alone and he would take me to his house and he was a great person. That year in Seville was very close to him and he was a fantastic and wonderful person ”.
How do you see Argentina
“I see the country as you do. With pain, sadness, it is continuous to say that you have to work as a team, because if it is not achieved it is impossible and it costs us Argentines a lot. We are all very good individually and collectively we have a hard time giving in. The day we have more people who achieve this status, we will be able to meet the Argentina we love and have to live. You could play in the street until night, the biggest fear was the famous drunk, with your grandmother you would go to the door after dinner to take the fresh air and today it cannot be done. Not to mention this pandemic. Hopefully the best decisions can be made, I know it’s difficult, but they are in that place for a reason. Hopefully it will be for the improvement of a country like we Argentines are, hard-working, healthy people, without fear, but let’s share more, if it doesn’t get too difficult ”.