One-game ban for Real Madrid midfielder Valverde no surprise to Simeone

By Sports Desk January 17, 2020

Diego Simeone fully expected Federico Valverde to be given only a short suspension following his crucial foul on Alvaro Morata in the Supercopa de Espana final.

With the score 0-0 in the final five minutes of extra time in Jeddah, Atletico Madrid's Morata raced through on goal only for Valverde to bring down the striker to halt his progress.

Valverde, who was later named man of the match, was sent off for the deliberate foul but went on to celebrate when Real Madrid won the penalty shoot-out 4-1.

Simeone had few qualms with the challenge at the time, insisting he would likely have done the same to win the match, and the Atleti boss was also not surprised to see Valverde earn only a one-game ban.

"I was clear after the match, saying that was what he had to do," Simeone said on Friday ahead of a LaLiga trip to Eibar. "I was also clear about what would happen.

"It doesn't make sense to wear myself out today on something that we already knew would happen. That's why I'm focusing on Eibar.

"We're in the middle of the season and there's still a lot of work ahead. There are things to improve. We worked well until September, then things were more difficult in November.

"Then we grew and we kept that up in the Supercopa. We're competing well and I'm proud to have competed well against a team like Real Madrid that is powerful in all senses."

The Supercopa final was another difficult game for €126million forward Joao Felix, but Simeone insists the Portugal international is learning all the time.

"The Supercopa was another step forward in the experience of a 20-year-old boy with incredible talent and skill. This road he's walking will be useful for the future," Simeone said.

"We believe in him; we need his skills. He has the ability to score. We hope that these experiences he's living in this new team help him to get stronger and grow day after day.

"We're the ones in charge to find their better version and find the better position so they can unlock their potential. I don't do things differently with Joao than with [Renan] Lodi, [Hector] Herrera, Koke or Saul [Niguez].

"We always try to do the best so players with that potential can put it to good use for the club and the team, so we're working with him and Lodi, the younger ones, so they can grow."

This weekend is the first round of LaLiga matches since Ernesto Valverde was sacked as Barcelona head coach in the wake of their 3-2 Supercopa semi-final loss to Atleti.

"I'm not the one to give an opinion about what happens to others," Simeone said. "Valverde is a really great coach. He left his team in first place in the league and still alive in the Champions League.

"He is a great person and has always been polite and exemplary as he managed the situation."

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