Simeone: There’s a €400 million difference between us and Barca
Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone was satisfied with a point against Barcelona, following the 0-0 draw at the Vicente Calderón, highlighting that it had been a very evenly matched game between two very powerful sides.
There had been much expectation ahead of the encounter between Atlético Madrid and Barcelona, but in the end, Diego Simeone suggested that perhaps the two sides had cancelled one another out, due to their respective strengths and performances.
“The two teams sought to to empower their strengths and to nullify those of their opponents. We’ve seen a very well contested game, between two teams that came into it first in La Liga, that have reached fifty points in the first half of the season. It was very competitive. There are goal-less draws that are filled with hard work, attention, commitment. There were chances on goal, few, but for both teams. Ours were on-target, whilst their’s weren’t. It was a nice game, it was vibrant and we’ve seen two strong teams out there.”
Simeone also explained some of his tactical decisions and strategies, that he’d deployed before and during the game.
“Ahead of the goal-kicks, the pressing was high. As for the possession play, we closed spaces through the middle. That’s their most direct routes going forward, along with the diagonal runs of Pedro and Alexis.”
Continuing his tactical explanations, Simeone also spoke about the positioning of Diego Costa and the important roles that he and David Villa played with their work-rate, helping the team remain solid as a unit.
“We opted to play him in the middle. There are two ways to block their midfield, where there’s always five, or five and a striker, or four and two, with the tremendous work of Costa and Villa, to ensure that Tiago and Gabi didn’t have to leave their positions so much. That always meant that we could break forward at any moment, with the speed of Diego.”
“Without the effort of the strikers, it’s impossible to work as well together as we have, in specific ways in each game we’ve played against them.”
Overall, Simeone was satisfied with the performance of his players and the outcome of the game.
“We tried to play an intelligent game and we did that. Barcelona score a lot of goals in all their games. Anything you give them, they punish you. We didn’t want that and from there, we played our own game. I’m completely happy with the work of the team.”
“We always want to win, but we’re in the highest position in the table, so we’re fine. We can always improve. The last three games against Barcelona have finished 0-0. Maybe the best game was the one we lost 1-2, my first against them.”
The Atlético Madrid manager then gave his evaluation of how things have progressed for his team, in the first half of the season, placing particular emphasis on how they’ve managed to keep in the fight with Barcelona, who have vastly superior resources at their disposal.
“50 points are a lot, but the players have won them, have worked hard, have done everything necessary to be in that position. We’ll have a rest now and then on Tuesday, we have another important game to ensure our progress in the Copa del Rey. We have a lot of respect for Barca and we said that coming into the game. There’s the small matter of a €400 million difference in budget, between us and Barca. With the tools we have, we’ve battled and fought to be where we are and that’s really good.”
Finally, Simeone gave referee Mateu Lahoz glowing praise, even though the match official had stern words for the Atlético manager during the game.
“The referee warned me and he was right. If he’d have sent me off, he would have been correct. It was a difficult game, but the referee had the ability not to interrupt the game too often. He interpreted actions well and did a great job. I really like this referee, he allows the football to be played. He’s not one to keep stopping games.”