Diego Simeone isn’t giving up on Atlético Madrid’s season just yet, even as the team’s performances continue to worsen following consecutive cup disappointments.
“I feel very good, with great enthusiasm — the same as I had the first day (I arrived as coach). I only think about positive things,” Simeone told the media Friday as Atlético prepare to face Valencia. “Everyone sees what they want to see, (but) I try to look at the dynamics from the latest league games, which are not bad. We beat Rayo and drew at Villarreal’s stadium. Hopefully, we can continue with that positive dynamic. Everything that has happened (already this season) cannot be fixed.
“Ninety percent of the players who made us champions a few months ago will play tomorrow.”
Atlético (9-6-5, 33 points) have not played a league game in nearly two weeks and are barely hanging on to fourth place. One of the Rojiblancos’ competitors for top four could be Valencia (7-8-6, 29 points), especially if José Bordalás’s team pulls off a victory on Saturday night. Los Che have not won any of the past 14 meetings with Atleti.
“We have always been strong when we have been all together — the fans, the directors, the (players and coaches),” Simeone said. “We need forcefulness and steadiness. We have to transmit those qualities on the field. We are going to find a tough, complex team (on Saturday), we know their coach well.”
The injured Antoine Griezmann-Geoffrey Kondogbia-Marcos Llorente trio will be unavailable in this final game before an international break, but much-needed defensive reinforcements are on the way (no, not from the transfer market). José Giménez and Stefan Savić are good to go after missing the Copa del Rey defeat in midweek. Assuming Savić plays, it will be his first appearance since the 2-1 loss to Mallorca on Dec. 5.
“We trust and believe in this group,” Simeone said. “We believe that the team is more important than individuals. When the team responds (to adverse situations), everything functions better.”
Date Jan. 22, 2022
Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST