Simeone: Every Atletico game is now a final

By Sports Desk June 14, 2020

Diego Simeone challenged his Atletico Madrid players to treat every remaining LaLiga match like a final after a 1-1 draw at Athletic Bilbao hindered their top-four hopes.

Throughout his eight-and-a-half-year tenure, Simeone has expanded Spain's big two to a big three – most notably when Atleti pipped Barcelona and Real Madrid to the title in 2013-14.

However, they lie sixth in the standings after Saturday's stalemate at San Mames, with a 13th top-flight draw this season setting an unwanted club record.

In their previous competitive match before the coronavirus shutdown, Atletico sensationally dumped holders Liverpool out of the Champions League to reach the quarter-finals.

However, their participation in next season's competition is far from assured and fourth-placed Real Sociedad could open up a three-point advantage when they host Osasuna later on Sunday.

"The aim for the two teams was to always try to win, we started well in the first 10 minutes, then they positioned themselves better and they won the second ball and they did not let us attack," Simeone told reporters, after watching Diego Costa find a quickfire response to Iker Muniain's opener.

"The goal came, the reaction, after a very well-constructed play.

"In the second half we were closer to that victory. Santiago Arias' chance was the clearest. He could have allow us to take the victory in a stadium where you always have to work to win.

"We have one final left in each match."

Simeone picked two-goal Anfield hero Marcos Llorente in an advanced role behind Costa, leaving striker Alvaro Morata on the bench until the 63rd minute.

Nevertheless, the Atleti boss would not rule out pairing them as a front two in future, with a Wednesday trip to Osasuna in LaLiga on the agenda.

"Seeing what I see and knowing the squad, I interpreted this situation to be like this today," he said.

"Over time, they will be able to coexist. We understood that Marcos could give us some incision like he did, with some sprints, some passes and the dirty work."

Related items

  • Copenhagen need to be 'perfect' against Man Utd, says Solbakken Copenhagen need to be 'perfect' against Man Utd, says Solbakken

    Stale Solbakken said Copenhagen needed to be "perfect" to have any chance of upsetting Manchester United in the Europa League.

    The Danish side face United in the quarter-finals in Cologne on Monday looking to cause a huge shock.

    As they prepare for the 2020-21 Superliga season, Copenhagen overcame Istanbul Basaksehir in the last 16, recording a 3-0 second-leg win on Wednesday.

    But Solbakken said only perfection would be enough for his side against United, who have lost just one of their past 23 games.

    "In order to [beat United] we have to play perfect, we need a bit of luck. We maybe need a United that doesn't fire on all cylinders," he told a news conference.

    "We need to be perfect defensively. We need to take one or two or three chances we get during a game like this. The chances are not great, but it's an advantage for us this is not over 90 minutes but 180 minutes.

    "But we have a good feeling after the season we had a week's break and when the players returned from that we were able to get a couple of players ready to play that were vital to us before.

    "We have a good feeling after the 3-0 victory, but you should not put your house on us. We'll give everything."

  • Lautaro Martinez 'very happy' at Inter amid Barca links – agent Lautaro Martinez 'very happy' at Inter amid Barca links – agent

    Lautaro Martinez is "very happy" at Inter amid links to LaLiga giants Barcelona, according to his agent Beto Yaque.

    Martinez has been tipped to leave Inter for Barca at the end of the season, though the Italian side have regularly insisted they have no plans to sell the star forward.

    The 22-year-old's €111million (£98.8m) release clause expired in July and Yaque played down the prospect of a transfer from San Siro to Camp Nou.

    "Lautaro's transfer is more in the media than real life," Yaque told La Figura de la Cancha.

    "Lautaro has three years on his contract with Inter and is very happy where he is.

    "He's had a very good season, still has the Europa League to play for and I hope Inter can go all the way in that competition."

    Yaque added: "I've never needed to give him advice and I don't need to now either. He's always been a complete player and has matured over the years."

    Martinez scored 14 Serie A goals as Antonio Conte's Inter finished second and a point behind champions Juventus in 2019-20.

    The Argentina international has managed 19 goals across all competitions ahead of Inter's Europa League quarter-final against Bayer Leverkusen on Monday.

  • Pirlo's Juventus appointment surprises Zola Pirlo's Juventus appointment surprises Zola

    Gianfranco Zola said he is "surprised" by Juventus' decision to appoint first-time head coach Andrea Pirlo following Maurizio Sarri's dismissal.

    Pirlo, 41, was sensationally appointed Juve coach on Saturday after the Serie A winners sacked Sarri following their Champions League last-16 exit at the hands of Lyon.

    Former Juve midfielder Pirlo, who was only recently named the Under-23s boss in Turin, will surprisingly have his first taste of senior coaching with the Bianconeri.

    Zola worked as an assistant to Sarri at Chelsea in 2018-19 and he told Sky Sport Italia: "I'd be lying if I said I wasn't surprised by this.

    "It's fascinating and if the project works, it'll go down as a huge success story for the club. It's not an easy job, though, as Juventus are asking to win in a certain way.

    "This is a courageous move from the club and based on the quality of the man, but Pirlo will need their support going forward. It's not simple, but I do think he can have real success."

    Pirlo left Juve in 2015 after the Bianconeri, who had been chasing the treble, were beaten 3-1 in the Champions League final by Barcelona.

    He spent two years in MLS with New York City before calling time on his playing career.

    The 2006 World Cup winner is a six-time Serie A champion, having won two Scudetti with Milan and four with Juve. He twice triumphed in the Champions League as a Rossoneri player, in 2003 and 2007.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.