Diego Pablo Simeone attended the media prior to the last game of the season. The Atlético coach, although there is one game left, takes stock of a “complex and irregular” course.
What has been the worst moment of the season for you?
It was an irregular season, we are not used to conceding so many goals, we lost many games. But what it reinforced is that with all the difficulties we have reached the Champions League two games before finishing the League. I’m getting closer to the good, since we were able to find that objective of the 14-game League we did a route quite similar to what we usually do and that came thanks to the mental work to reach the objective. In the Champions League we have competed very well, despite not winning any games at home, in the round of 16 and in the quarterfinals because of the way we fought against two important teams. I prefer that in a complex and very irregular season, with a lot of self-criticism, but with a lot of certainties. An important season to learn and prepare for everything that comes.
Have you been hungry?
There has been a lot of self-criticism, as always, and it is harder than what you do in daily opinion. We want to win, the club’s goal is to enter the Champions League, but ours is to win. I’m not going to change game by game because it’s wonderful to get excited only about the next game. Being strong and united makes it easier.
Does Atleti have to return to the essence of being very strong at the back?
We have to refine things. We suffered the absence of Trippier, first with the shoulder, then the exit, and we were not able to solve that space as I would have liked. We delayed Llorente to where he is not so comfortable, he played a whole year in a place where he cannot show what he showed last season. I am responsible. Vrsaljko played sometimes, but he also had injuries, Wass came and got injured right away and the ending is all or nothing and it is difficult to give chances. We have suffered a lot with the central defenders, Savic and Giménez have had injuries and relapses… They seem like excuses, but they are realities. I couldn’t solve it in the best way. Then Reinildo came, we were able to maintain the stability of the central defenders and in these ten games the numbers began to change, the team defended stronger, with better overall work and that generated a regularity that is what differentiates us in the championship.
Does the season end happy?
Not at all. After having won the League, I always had the illusion of getting closer to repeating it. It is a good message that life gives, learn continuously. The 4-4-2, the 5-3-2 that we were using… that also made me feel a bit dizzy. There is not much difference between the two but I could have done more than I did.
How much will the Atleti you want look like the one you are going to have?
We have an important squad, in almost all places there are players who can generate what we want. We don’t need many footballers. We do need someone to come and reinforce some place that needs new energy.
What will be the keys to the match?
Take the game to where we believe we can harm a rival that plays very well, with a structure that offers a lot of regularity and that grows year after year, like Betis, Sevilla, Villarreal, Athletic, all teams that leave approaching. You have to play a good game, they will want the same. It’s time to close an irregular course in the best way.