Atletico Madrid’s disappointing week is “not a complete surprise” to head coach Diego Simeone.
Atletico were beaten 1-0 by surprise early La Liga leaders Villarreal last Saturday before suffering a 2-1 home defeat to Benfica in the Champions League.
The 2014 champions head into Sunday’s derby with Real Madrid with a four-point gap to the top of the table but Simeone has insisted he fully expected a difficult opening to the season.
“We have to see the positive things from the last two games we’ve lost and correct the negatives. We’re always thinking of the positive things,” he said on Saturday. “We create quite a few chances and that’s not easy, especially in the Champions League.
“Nothing of what’s happening to us is a complete surprise to me. We knew the first 10 games of the season would be tough, with difficult opponents home and away, and we have a lot of young lads who we need to incorporate into the team in the best way possible.
“We’re working very well. In that regard, the team is doing very well and we finish games better than our opponents.”
Simeone went on to praise the impact of Rafael Benitez at Real Madrid this season, especially in improving their defensive record.
“They’ve still got the same line of attacking power, they’re trying to protect themselves with greater defensive work, especially out wide,” he added. “That’s given them fewer goals against, an important factor for any team that wants to win. We’ll try to be alert to counter whoever plays in these areas.
“In his history as a coach, Benitez has always worked in the same way. At Valencia, Liverpool – he has inherent characteristics, to have teams that work, are balanced and have a good defensive aspect.”
Jackson Martinez has struggled for form since his move to Atletico from Porto during the transfer window but Simeone would not confirm whether the Colombia striker or Fernando Torres would start on Sunday.
“They trained very well and that’s very good,” he continued. “That’s good for the team. Whoever players, although they have their own characteristics, will do well for the team.”
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