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A historic match was planned for the Argentine coach, but he insists that his team will not stop
Diego Simeone has been taking his tenure at Atlético de Madrid “game by game” for nine years and now, 500 games, he is keen to ensure that standards do not slip in 2021.
Atlético coach Simeone oversaw a 1-0 La Liga win over Getafe on Wednesday to mark his 500th game as head of the club in all competitions.
Luis Suárez’s eighth goal in the league for Atlético secured maximum points midweek, ensuring that Simeone’s high-flying team headed to the top of the New Year’s table.
Reflecting on his approach when he returned to Atleti as coach in December 2011, Simeone explained that he has rarely looked beyond the next game, now Deportivo Alavés on Sunday.
“Since I arrived when I met Miguel [Angel Gil Marin, CEO] and Enrique [Cerezo, president]”I told them to go game by game,” said the 50-year-old. “That is my feeling, playing each game as if it were the last until the situations lead me to leave Atlético or not.”
In addition to leading La Liga 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 games, but Simeone is not interested in their achievements. 2020, preferring to focus on the campaign as a whole.
8 – Luis Suárez has scored eight goals in his first 11 games for @atletienglish in #The league equaling the best start of an Atlético striker in this century’s competition (Radamel Falcao in 2011). Tiger #AtletiGetafe #Atletico Madrid pic.twitter.com/x2qyX3o1y7
– OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 30, 2020
“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.
“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 lost in the quarter-finals.
“So we started again. We started well, as we have been playing since the pandemic ended, with the team very motivated. Now we have to continue.”
However, when asked what his wish would be for the next 12 months, Simeone highlighted the public health situation rather than the tilt of his team’s title.
“It would be too selfish if, in the moment that 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, return to normality. Health, above all, I ask for health.”
Atleti’s latest victory continued to be a remarkable record against Getafe with Simeone, playing 18 games without conceding (16 wins, two draws without goals), but Simeone guarded against complacency and added: “They are situations.
“Atlético went 14 years without beating Real Madrid. There have been quite a few games since we beat Barcelona. But that was until one day. We face each game with the same passion.”