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Simeone: “The Champions League is giving us a pain in the head”

Atlético’s coach says his team has to get better at killing off games.

Atletico Madrid v FC Bayern Muenchen: Group A - UEFA Champions League Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Atlético Madrid could taste qualification to the next round of the Champions League. They led Bayern Munich deep into the second half and continued to look dangerous on the counter. The competition’s reigning winners had drawn a blank when it came to breaking down Simeone’s back five and Atlético were inching closer to a last 16 spot with a game to spare.

Then Thomas Müller tripped over Felipe’s trailing leg in the penalty area and Atlético were back to square one.

The Champions League is giving us a pain in the head,” Simeone said after the 1-1 draw on Tuesday night.

The Argentine’s side can seemingly do no wrong in LaLiga but continue to stutter in the Champions League, the only competition he has not won as Atlético’s manager.

“I get the feeling that the team is doing things well,” he said after the game. “The three games we drew, we could have gotten a better result but we weren’t forceful enough, which is what’s important. We played very well in the first half, a lovely goal...and the first part of the second half we could have had a second before they got the penalty. We have a final next Wednesday.

“We aren’t convincing enough [in front of goal] but we are creating chances,” Simeone continued. “To the fans, I say, we will keep going on this path...and it will be a good game against Salzburg, who compete well, have a lot of speed as they showed here and who have no fear.”

Atlético’s inability to finish games

Atlético have only scored two goals goal in the last three games — two draws and a win — and Simeone says that a slim lead going into the last 10 minutes can always spell trouble.

“Like the last five minutes against Valencia,” he said. “And the last 10 against Barcelona. A scoreline that tight can give the opponent the chance to draw the game. We had gone through our best spell to score the second goal and then the penalty happened because they hadn’t had many chances.”

Atletico Madrid v FC Bayern Muenchen: Group A - UEFA Champions League Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Simeone was asked if they are missing a number nine, namely Luis Suárez and Diego Costa.

“It wouldn’t be fair on the guys who are playing,” he said, and he emphasised the need to improve finishing in training.

“We don’t have one [a number nine],” Simeone said to Movistar after the game. “And I focus on what we do have and they are competing very well. We have looked for a way to win at every moment and we ended up with a draw that hurts us. But we are alive.”

What’s next

Atlético play Valladolid next in LaLiga on Saturday, followed by Salzburg in Austria on Wednesday. Real Madrid come next in the league after that.

The victory over Bayern could have seen the Salzburg game used as a rest with qualification secured. It wasn’t to be, though.

Luis Suárez should come back into the squad for Valladolid and be available and fresh for the upcoming games. He is the kind of player who needs to play regularly to get into his rhythm but he will be a welcome addition given Atlético’s lack of killer instinct in the penalty area.

José Giménez went off injured and grabbed the bottom of his hamstring. Felipe replaced him but the Uruguayan, who had been playing well, could miss a couple weeks as we await news on his injury.