Herrera: Simeone's defence-first mindset a perfect fit for Atletico Madrid

By Sports Desk December 01, 2023

Diego Simeone's passion and defence-first tactics make him an ideal fit at Atletico Madrid, according to Hector Herrera.

Herrera played under Simeone at Atleti for three years between 2019 and 2022, winning the 2020-21 LaLiga title with the club before heading to MLS with Houston Dynamo.

Simeone has enjoyed great success since he was appointed at Atleti in 2011, leading them to a pair of league titles, two Europa League trophies as well as two Champions League finals, albeit losing both to city rivals Real Madrid.

The 53-year-old took charge of his 100th Champions League game with Atleti as they won 3-1 away at Feyenoord on Tuesday to clinch a last-16 place. Simeone is one of just three coaches to manage 100 or more Champions League games with the same team, joining Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, who managed the feat with Manchester United and Arsenal respectively.

Simeone has often been described as a defensive coach, though Herrera believes his former boss, known by many as 'Cholo', instead uses his conservative tactics to give his team more license to go and attack.

"The people outside think that the game is defensive, but Cholo's idea is clear," Herrera told Stats Perform. "First you have to defend to be able to attack later.

"He always said that you start by being good defensively, and then you can create danger. They believe that the best way to attack is to defend and I think that works well for them.

"It is a way of playing that has given him a lot of success and when I was there too. He works and makes it very clear to you what you have to do on the pitch."

Simeone will enter his 13th year as Atleti head coach in December, having signed a new contract in November that will keep him with the club until 2027.

Herrera believes the views of Simeone and the club align and that is why he chose to stay on, saying: "They are one for another. Atletico is for Cholo and Cholo is for Atletico.

"They have the same passion for the club and for football, that's why it's gone so well. He is a coach who feels a lot about football and his profession. He has a very clear idea of himself and the identity of the club.

"All of this is why he has done so well and has earned to continue being the team's coach."

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