Diego Simeone was in a positive mood after the 1-1 draw with Real Madrid, reflecting on the result and refereeing controversies that cost his Atlético Madrid team on what could have been a famous night.
“Everything I see is that it was a beautiful game, we played with strength despite the painful and important injury to Reinildo, we fought back from a sending off,” Simeone said.
Simeone — who on Saturday tied Luis Aragonés’s record 612 Atlético games coached — sought to deflect away from the refereeing controversy: in the 64th minute, Jesús Gil Manzano sent off Ángel Correa for a supposed elbow on Antonio Rüdiger off the ball.
“The referee was close to the incident and understood that there was a movement, but VAR could have seen that there wasn’t the violence to send a player off,” he said. “Whether VAR called or not, whether it’s the referee’s decision or not, we could see that we didn’t have that kind of decision in our favour so that we could all play on the same terms. We have VAR, there are a lot of people helping, but I think we all need it to be better to help us to all play on the same terms.”
“I still think that Gil Manzano is a great referee, without any doubt,” Simeone responded when asked about the referee’s performance. “I think he needs more help. He needs to be able to see that the contact isn’t enough for a guy who is 194cm tall to fall over.
“We can all make mistakes, the coach, the players, the referee. I just say, at least we have VAR.”
“Today we couldn’t play with equality. I don’t know why, but it always happens. We want football to be as fair as possible, and we hope that one day it will be,” Stefan Savić told DAZN when asked about the incident that saw Correa sent off.
Among the worst news from the Bernabéu was the serious injury to Reinildo, who suffered a season-ending ACL injury to his right leg.
“His recovery starts now, tomorrow his mental effort will begin,” Simeone said. “It’s happened to a lot of players, even me, and he will recover and his smile every day and his strength, even wearing short-sleeve shirts in training when it’s cold, shows that he will come back stronger and we will all be here for him.”
Assessment of the match
“We kept changing, I think we were better on the right with (Marcos) Llorente, then moved to 4-4-2, we controlled the game and just missed the final area and the finish. (Pablo) Barrios’ pass to Llorente, Koke’s pass to Llorente, we had chances but could not finish them,” Simeone reflected.
However, Simeone continued to praise the team and the way that they continued to compete in the game despite the adversity.
“In the second half, we took the initiative and played with strength,” Simeone said. “Then there was the red card but we still had chances, on the counter especially, with one man less we still had goal-scoring chances and it took us close to winning the game. We could have defended (Modrić’s) cross (to Álvaro Rodriguez) better, but they are always a dangerous team in the box.”
Simeone — who has also now surpassed former Madrid boss Miguel Muñoz’s record 424 league games coached — was asked at the end about his experience visiting the Santiago Bernabéu for derbies. This time, Real Madrid fans again directed chants towards the coach, but they were left frustrated by his team.
“I think we’ve had a lot of luck in the Bernabéu, every time I hear them sing ‘Cholo stay’ it’s great,” he joked before leaving the press conference in a positive mood.