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Simeone has transformed Atletico – Cocu

PSV coach Phillip Cocu has hailed the role of Diego Simeone in Atletico Madrid’s recent successes ahead of the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie in Eindhoven on Wednesday.

Simeone has guided Atletico to La Liga, Europa League and Copa del Rey triumph since taking charge at the Vicente Calderon in December 2011 and Cocu has nothing but respect for the Argentine’s work.

“Atletico Madrid are nothing like the team they were when I played in Spain,” the Dutchman said. “They have a different coach and different players, but it’s nice to see how Simeone has built a good team again and I can surely appreciate that.

“It’s nice to see how Simeone transmits his character onto his players. They have lost some players, but their identity remains the same. That’s why they have become a force to be reckoned with in one of the best leagues in Europe.

“One can only have respect for that.

“They are very consistent and always act as a tight unit. They don’t give away much space, regardless of their opponents. That typifies them. A

“Atletico are a good example of what a team can do. They all play for the team, without any exceptions. Nobody is bigger than someone else. They are all willing to give 100 per cent for the team.”

PSV will be without Luuk de Jong due to suspension, but Andres Guardado could return to the starting XI after a spell on the sidelines with a hamstring injury.

“We will not necessarily change our style of play because of De Jong’s absence. We have a number of alternatives in that position,” Cocu added.

“We always look at our opponents and come up with a game plan based on the opponents. That could mean we make some changes. I have several options.

“We are glad Guardado has resumed training. He is fit and available. Andres is very important for us. Not just because of the player he is, but also because of his personality. He is very influential and helps the other players. We are happy to have him back.

“We will have to make a decision on whether to play him or not. There are always risks. You are never 100 per cent sure he is ready, but we have tested him and are discussing his situation with the medical staff. I will not say now whether he will start.”

Tue 23 Feb, 2016
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