Atlético coach Diego Simeone gave a long-winded press conference on Wednesday, going over a number of interesting topics and revealing some of his ideas for the club he recently signed a year and a half contract with.
Simeone explained his controversial decision to bench Arda Turan last Saturday, and shed some light on his decision-making process when it came to preparing for his debut match in Málaga.
‘El Cholo’ shared his expectations for our upcoming game against Villarreal, and what he expects from the fans for his return to the Vicente Calderón.
Below is an excerpt of Simeone’s press conferece as found at Atlético’s official site.
On his influence in training
We’ll come into the game [against Villarreal] after 15 practices and one match. The truth is the will and commitment of the players is extraordinary. There’s a great level of acceptance of all types of work and that can be transferred to the playing field. It was seen in the Málaga match and we hope it repeats itself and we continue to grow.
Málaga line-up explained and planning process for Sunday’s game against Villarreal
In theory, in Málaga we came out with Falcao up top, but with Salvio and Juanfran on the flanks. With Diego, who inserted himself to play in a more advanced position, and with Tiago and Gabi, who aren’t of a defensive style. It was a match that was more about circulation and pressing forward than marking.
We’re searching [for a playing style] and matches aren’t all alike. The [match against] Villarreal is different because we’re playing at home. We’ll go in search of what goes best for us in training. The competition in training brings us back to our amateur days when we were young and in that phase that we wanted to win over the coach so that we could play. And at Atlético Madrid, we’re in that process of seeing who wants to play and whoever comes closest to what the team needs will be closer to playing.
Will we see a more offensive-minded set-up against Villarreal?
When one holds oneself back to debate whether we’re being offensive or defensive it’s a very divisive topic. I can be offensive with a single forward or I can be defensive with three forwards. Adrián is a very important player for us, as well as Arda and Koke, who is at a very good level of growth and we have high expectations of him. Diego is a player of weight on the team and Salvio did well the other day. We have players to continue to grow and improve on what took place in Málaga.
On the current state of affairs
We’re against the clock. We need the points. There’s good communication with the players to get to know them quickly. I consider the match against Málaga important and Atlético’s performance in the second half even more important. They only created one chance against us at the end and we had some very clear chances like Diego’s and Godín’s.
I don’t stop myself to think about how the team was before. I see a lot of enthusiasm and that the team is incredibly eager to play on Sunday. The team knows that the fans are going to accompany us and will be there with them in a packed stadium. From there, the team needs to recover some ground and we are working to achieve that. As the games come along we’ll be looking out to see if something is missing to continue to grow and then we will work with the club.
On facing former Atlético team-mate Molina, newly-appointed coach of el Submarino
[Villarreal] will also have some absences. I feel great affection and love for Molina. It will be a lovely meeting. Surely the people will receive him the way he deserves, for everything he has given our Atlético. I expect it to be a tough game. In the middle of the field they have players with great ball-handling skills.
Against Valencia, Villarreal played a more than acceptable game against them, with a lot of possession, lots of changes in movement between their central midfielders Borja and Cani. We’ll see how they replace Marco Rubén. Surely they’ll come out to hurt us taking advantage of spaces and taking away the ball from us. We’ll look to inject a high pace into the match and, obviously, to cause them some damage from the beginning.
On his return to the Vicente Calderón
I expect the stadium to be full, and the fans in all-out support of their team. It would be the best way to welcome me. We Atléticos need to be united and I know that the fans are extremely important at the Calderón. We hope to respond to the great supporters, that will surely fill the stadium, in the same way.
On why he chose not to start Arda Turan against Málaga
Arda, Miranda, Koke, Mario nor Assunçao, a lot of players, did not start. It’s impossible to play with 12. Arda is an extraordinary player, with character, phenomenal skills in one-on-ones; he’s extremely important to the team and for sure he will do well for us wherever we are able to use him.
Whenever we have to use Arda we hope to find the best version of him because he’s a different type of player.
I have high expectations. I was told about [the Arda situation], but if he comes in I have to take out Salvio. I see that Koke is fantastic, Adrián has to play, Mario is improving so much. Assuncao [does a great job recovering balls], Gabi and Tiago played well. I’m happy because this gives me more possibilities. The players inspire trust in me. I imagine that no player on the squad wants to miss [the match] and we hope to not make any mistakes with our selections.
On his objectives for the club
There are 21 matches left. So many things can happen. We have to focus on Villarreal and to focus on anything beyond the match against Villarreal would be a mistake. The coveted fourth spot is a long way away and we live in reality. The reality is that on Sunday we have a decisive match and to pull off the victory we have to all be united.
We will look to grow progressively. The men were coming off the back of three straight losses and eight goals against. It wasn’t easy against Málaga because they came into the match after playing well against Real Madrid in the Copa [del Rey] and we were taking on an opponent that has the ability to get far, with the third highest budget in the league.
We had only had seven practices. We went from less to more and suffered mostly in the first 20 minutes, especially on the left. The second half resembled more how we want to play, with more ball possession and with the ball in a more advanced position, and it was the best part of the game. I want to win and I would be happy attacking once and scoring one goal.