Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone gave a press conference at the club’s training facilities in Majadahonda Wednesday morning, looking ahead to Sunday’s home match against Valencia and reflecting on his phenomenal run during his first month and a half in charge.
“I hope to see a packed Calderón and that with our fans, it’ll be 12 against Valencia,” he said.
“I hope the people live this moment the way it must be lived, with passion, the way the supporters of Atlético Madrid have gotten us accustomed to; with excitement because excitement is part of the hope.
“We are the first to get hopeful but we are taking it day-by-day. Valencia are a strong opponent that we are familiar with and that have always been hard for us. They will be tough and have good players.
“I want a packed stadium on Sunday.”
Below is an excerpt of Simeone’s press conferece as found at Atlético’s official site.
On the so called “Cholo effect”
I don’t dwell on those journalistic scenarios. We work towards continuous improvement game-to-game, because it’s a very long competition.
We always live in the present and the present is the upcoming match. The boys are working very well and we have been evolving in a positive manner this month and a half that we’ve been with the team.
Do we have an advantage over Valencia because of their midweek Copa action?
Valencia have a very large and very good squad. They’re a team that offer many variations to the way they play and are very complete. They play in the Copa [del Rey] at home but I’m not going to focus on that cup game but, rather, on their squad, which is very good and we’ll see what players they’ll have available to take us on. They will be a tough and difficult opponent on Sunday regardless of what happens in the Copa.
On why no signings were made over the winter transfer window
It’s a result of the reality we live in. The team is fine and, consequently, we mutually agreed not to make an effort at any position and strengthen what he have here today.
On the return of Fran Mérida after his six-month loan spell at Braga
We spoke to Caminero about the possibility of bringing him in and we gave him the ‘OK’. I spoke to him in the morning and we have told him what we want of the team and of the players that are with us. Now, we will monitor his growth and we’ll look out for his moment. Hopefully, we can use the best he has to offer.
Did he expect such a strong start in which Atleti have taken 10 of 12 points?
When one begins to work, one hopes for the best but is aware that there are many things that can happen. We are working well and hopefully we will continue to grow as a team. There is something that is much more important than the 10 points and that is the commitment the team has made to work hard.
Will he rotate the starting line-up?
The best thing that has happened to us since we arrived is that in Málaga we came out with a [starting XI]. Against Villarreal we had to change it up because of suspensions with two players who responded very well. Against Real Sociedad, we also had to make a change and in Pamplona, the same thing happened, with a great response. This, in itself, speaks well for the group. The coach will decide ahead of the matches that come.
How did he feel about Mendilibar’s comment that Atleti played like “a small club”?
When I heard Osasuna’s coach, I don’t know if he was criticising us but for me it was praise because he said that we think like a small club. I think it’s the opposite, because what we have is the heart of the small teams.
On Atlético’s Portuguese players
Sílvio is recovering and works very hard and each time he’s doing better. We need him so that he can pitch in and contribute to the team whenever he gets a chance to play. For that though, he has to be at 100 per cent which is what we need of all our boys who are going to participate.
We haven’t been able to use Pizzi but when I watch him train I ask myself why I don’t put him in. He’s in a state of growth.
Tiago is an extremely important player and we expect a lot from him, not only in the matches but also before the group and the team.
[Tiago’s captainship in Osasuna] was my decision.
His thoughts on referees
Referees try to do their best job and they make mistakes in the same way that us coaches make mistakes in matches when we make a late substitution or a bad tactical change or when we make a mistake in selecting a player for a game.
On the squad’s four straight shutouts
Beyond the statistical aspect, there’s a way to interpret how to defend and defending doesn’t have to do with only how good Courtois is playing right now, it has to do with how well everyone is playing.
When the team scores a lot of goals it’s because of the importance of everyone on the squad. Beyond the statistic of zero [goals conceded], the work of Arda, Adrián, Koke, Falcao, of everyone the team has on offense [is equally important], it’s great for the whole squad and is not a statistic that is only good for the goalkeeper.