Simeone relishing tough schedule

Diego Simeone believes Atletico Madrid will benefit from a season that could include four games against Real Madrid.

Atleti will play their city rivals Madrid four times this season after the Copa draw pitted the two against each other, to go with their two League fixtures.

Los Colcherneros have already met Barcelona three times – once in the League and twice in the Spanish Super Cup – and with both sides in the Copa del Rey semi-finals, they could meet in the tournament final as well as their second League meeting, to come in the final round of games in May.

Rather than be daunted by such a schedule, Simeone told reporters after the 2-1 win over Athletic Bilbao that it could be the making of his team.

“I think it’s better this way,” Simeone said.

“You learn more and improve, testing yourself and getting rid of the fear of playing that game.”

Atletico became the first visiting side to win at San Mames on Wednesday and it is a feat that Simeone did not attempt to underplay.

“First of all, we have great respect for Athletic, its people and its wonderful stadium.

“Beyond insults, we are all football.

“This pure football field is enviable.

“The way the crowd lives with the players and encourages them, even though the result was negative.

“We didn’t control the game in the first 30 minutes but we did the rest, although Bilbao had a good end to the half.

“In those 10 minutes were two good stops by Courtois, but overall we had the better chances.

“During the second-half we went out strong and the goal gave us confidence, security, commitment and intensity.”

Tags Diego Simeone