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A relieved Diego Simeone credited the work of his players after Atletico Madrid marked their 400th LaLiga match in the lead with a 2-0 away win against Elche on Wednesday.
Atleti also secured Champions League qualification with the win, opening a six-point gap to Real Betis in fifth place via goals from Matheus Cunha and Rodrigo de Paul.
In Simeone’s 11 years at the club, Atleti have been able to disrupt the hegemony of Barcelona and Real Madrid, winning the LaLiga, Europa League and UEFA Super Cup twice as well as the Copa del Rey.
Simeone showed humility after the victory and said the support he has at the club is rare, allowing for such an unusually long term of office.
“It’s an important moment, because if it were not for all the players who have passed the club, it would be impossible,” he said after the match. “I am grateful and lucky because the club has always supported me. Back and forth is there, but I thank all the players who were here at this time and gave me the opportunity.
“I like the players who had an irregular season. We competed very well in the Champions League and in LaLiga we could not maintain regularity.
“The goal has already been reached. Deserved, we worked hard and that makes us return to the Champions League for another year. It is very important for the club.”
Simeone trained his 400th match as a coach in @LaLigaEN this Wednesday.
– Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) May 11, 2022
As noted by Simeone, it has been an irregular season of Atleti’s notoriously conservative and defensive standards on the pitch.
The 41 goals that Colchoneros has conceded during this period in the league make up the most over an entire season since taking over as coach in December 2011.
Tensions have swelled in that regard, and it was clear again at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero, where Jan Oblak and Renan Lodi shared a heated exchange before Cunha’s opening.
After Wednesday’s victory, the 52-year-old admitted that the defensive fall has been a difficult trade-off for stronger attacking strength, but had no problems with the Oblak and Lodi argument.
“If there are discussions, it’s good because the players are in the game and they’re alive,” he said. “I like that kind of thing because I feel like the players are in the game.
“I think this year we have scored the most goals since I have been in the club. The opponents have also scored the most on us.
“This is the balance it has cost us to find. We had Savic and Gimenez out, Reinildo did us very well. He works very seriously and with humility. In front of the goal we scored many goals “