Diego Simeone has been taking his Atletico Madrid tenure “game by game” for nine years and now, 500 games in, is keen to ensure standards do not slip in 2021.
Atletico head coach Simeone oversaw a 1-0 LaLiga win over Getafe on Wednesday to mark his 500th match in charge of the club in all competitions, trailing only Luis Aragones (611).
Luis Suarez’s eighth league goal for Atletico secured maximum points midweek that ensured Simeone’s high-flying side would head into the new year top of the table.
But reflecting on his approach when returning to Atleti as coach in December 2011, Simeone explained he has rarely looked beyond the next game – for now Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.
“Since I arrived when I got together with Miguel [Angel Gil Marin, CEO] and Enrique [Cerezo, president], I told them let’s go game by game,” the 50-year-old said after the Getafe game.
“That is my feeling, playing each game as if it were the last until situations lead me to leave Atletico or not.”
As well as leading LaLiga at the end of December, Atleti have completed a calendar year without losing at home in the league for the first time since 1998, winning 14 and drawing the other four of their 18 matches.
But Simeone is not interested in their 2020 achievements, preferring to focus on the campaign as a whole.
“We cannot consider the years as a year but as a season,” he explained. “Last season we achieved our goal of reaching the Champions League and we managed to settle in that place that allows us to continue growing.
8 – Luis Suárez has scored eight goals in his first 11 games for @atletienglish in #LaLiga equaling the best starting for a Atlético’s striker in the competition this century (Radamel Falcao in 2011). Tiger#AtletiGetafe #AtleticoMadrid pic.twitter.com/x2qyX3o1y7
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 30, 2020
“The Copa del Rey went very badly, where we were eliminated in the first round. In the Champions League, we were excited after the game against Liverpool, but then we fell in the quarter-finals.
“So we started over. We started well, as we have been playing since the pandemic ended, with the team very motivated. And now we have to continue.”
Asked what his wish might be for the coming 12 months, though, Simeone highlighted the public health situation rather than his team’s title tilt.
“It would be too selfish if, in the moment we are living, we think about football,” Simeone said amid the coronavirus pandemic.
“Hopefully we can hug a friend again, be able to celebrate a birthday again, get back to normal. Health; above all, I ask for health.”
Atleti’s latest win continued a remarkable record against Getafe under Simeone, playing 18 matches without conceding (16 wins, two goalless draws).
But Simeone guarded against complacency, adding: “These are situations.
“Atletico spent 14 years without beating Real Madrid. It has been quite a few games since we beat Barcelona. But that was until one day. We face each game with the same passion.”
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