Atletico Madrid’s future is an exciting one, according to Diego Simeone, after his side defeated Espanyol to remain within touching distance of La Liga leaders Barcelona.
Antoine Griezmann’s exqusite goal three minutes into Saturday’s encounter at the Vicente Calderon was enough to extend Atleti’s unbeaten streak in all competitions to 10 games and maintain a four-point gap between themselves and Barca.
Asked if he believed that his side could match the feat of 2013-14 – when they claimed the title for the first time in 18 years – Simeone cited key differences between the two sides, but could not hide his exictement over the potential of his current crop.
“I do not see similarities with the team two years ago, that was men, boys of 27 or 28 years… the smallest, youngest player then was Koke,” he said.
“[But] today it is the kids, who are young. But this means that they will grow faster and we will all benefit. The future excites us.”
Simeone used a total of seven players aged 23 or under in Saturday’s win, a game in which Atleti had little trouble in sealing the points against a toothless Espanyol outfit.
However, the victory was marred somewhat by news that Tiago Mendes, who has featured in every game this season, had suffered a broken leg following a collision with Espanyol’s Marco Asensio.
Simeone tried to remain positive, choosing to focus on the fact that Atleti’s youngsters stepped up to fill the void left by the veteran midfielder.
“Tiago was very badly inured, but from that the team responded well,” he added. “Saul [Niguez], Oliver [Torres] and Koke, three boys in midfield that filled in.
“Other days we have [Luciano] Vietto and Jose Giminez and Stefan Savic who always come and have good games, so the competition for players is very good for the team.”