Atletico Madrid were held to a stalemate in their Champions League opener against FC Porto on Wednesday. It was a mediocre performance from Atlético in their home ground, and Porto thought they had even taken the lead in the 79th minute, but their joy was short-lived as VAR ruled out Mehdi Taremi’s goal for a handball.
Diego Simeone admitted that Atlético have a lot to learn from this performance.
“We didn’t start off too badly in the first 10 to 15 minutes, but we dropped off a little and we need to improve our consistency in that sense,” Simeone said. “We need to continue improving, especially going forward. We’ll work on that.”
Simeone discussed his team’s intensity and improving its cohesion from one system to the next.
“We look to vary the system so the team can find a way through during the game, and we have players who can play in many positions, which gives us the chance to mix things up,” Cholo explained.
Goalkeeper Jan Oblak began his European campaign with a clean sheet, but he wanted much more from the opening game in Group B besides a crucial VAR intervention.
“Of course we wanted to win tonight, but things didn’t quite go as we’d have liked,” Oblak said. “Porto played well, they were good defensively and looked dangerous on the counter.
“We didn’t have much space and we missed a bit of creative spark,” the Slovene continued. “We didn’t have many chances, but it’s never easy against sides who close up at the back.”
Simeone, meanwhile, is backing Antoine Griezmann to come good after a difficult start to his second stint at the club. The France star’s 21 goals for Atlético in the Champions League are nine more than any other player in the team’s history.
“Let’s hope that he gets better, that he can respond to all the people who criticise him at this time,” Simeone said to Movistar. “He has a challenge ahead of him as a result of what happened in the past.
“They [the media] are making a movie [out of this] and a curiosity [from this] situation that clearly generates for us only the importance of having recovered a magnificent footballer.”