Sime­one: Atletico Madrid suc­cess is ‘luck’

Malta Independent - - SPORT -

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Sime­one re­fused to com­pare his side’s Cham­pi­ons League per­for­mance to that of other La Liga clubs ahead to­day’s clash against Real So­ciedad.

With Tues­day’s Cham­pi­ons League Group D 2-1 win at home to Ros­tov, Atletico main­tained their 100 per­cent record and sealed their progress to the knock­out stages of the com­pe­ti­tion two games early.

Although they con­ceded their first goal in the group stage, their pow­er­ful La Liga ri­vals Barcelona and Real Madrid strug­gled, with the Blau­grana club los­ing to Manch­ester City and Real Madrid play­ing to a 3-3 draw against Le­gia War­saw.

“We have won all our [Cham­pi­ons League] matches? Surely, it must be luck,” Sime­one said in his ha­bit­ual dead­pan dur­ing yes­ter­day’s news con­fer­ence.

Real So­ciedad have 16 points and sit sixth in La Liga’s table in prepa­ra­tion to face Los Che, who are third, three points be­hind league leader Real Madrid.

Yes­ter­day, the club won their ap­peal over Ste­fan Savic’s sec­ond yel­low card dur­ing their 4-2 win last week­end against Malaga and the de­fender is cleared to play to­day.

“He has be­come an im­por­tant player for our team and we have four cen­tral de­fend­ers who play very well,” Sime­one said.

The Ar­gen­tine coach has also added 21-year-old cen­tre-back Jose Maria Gimenez to his start­ing XI. Gimenez re­turned to play vs. Ros­tov after re­cov­er­ing from a groin prob­lem that saw him miss most of Septem­ber.

“The re­turn of Gimenez is great news for us. With [Diego] Godin, Lu­cas [Her­nan­dez] and Savic, we have a great group.”

Sime­one re­fused to dis­cuss La Liga matches be­yond to­day’s clash at Anoeta and said that it is part of his na­ture to try to con­tinue to im­prove.

“Real So­ciedad have been im­prov­ing a lot, they have been play­ing well and they will chal­lenge us,” he said. “We are fo­cused only on this match and on get­ting the best pos­si­ble re­sult.

“We are al­ways fo­cused on our team and we try to play our own game.”

Asked whether he was con­cerned that only one Atletico player had been in­cluded in Spain’s squad yes­ter­day, Sime­one said: “I can’t have an opin­ion about the de­ci­sions an­other coach makes. That is a ques­tion for him and not for me.”

Sime­one also in­cluded Koke among his mid­field­ers.

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