Simeone welcomes competition

Atletico Madrid Coach Diego Simeone has said that far from being intimidated by Real Madrid and Barcelona, he relishes fixtures against the top two.

El Cholo was speaking to Argentinean publication Ole! and his comments have been re-printed by AS.

Simeone said that he has never feared playing Madrid or Barca and if it was up to him, would play the pair more often.

“It’s better for us. In the sports papers, 10 pages are dedicated to Madrid and another 10 to Barca and if they win 4-0, it’s as though they won 16-0 because the constantly repeat the highlights,” Simeone said.

“That creates a situation of fear and so when you have to play against them, you’re almost losing from the start.

“For foreign teams it’s a bit different, meeting Madrid or Barca motivates them as they are less affected by the media hype. If it was up to me, I’d play against them every week.”

Simeone also revealed details about his approach to the game and admitted that as he favours a style that differs from Pep Guardiola’s, he felt like an outsider upon taking the Atletico job.

“We want to build a team which shows commitment,” Simeone continued.

“That is a very big word to use and I mean it in the sense of being committed to play, to run, to train, respect your rival, understand the intelligence that lies behind the game.

“At Atletico, I think we are achieving that and it’s fantastic to see a kind of commitment that few people have in life.

“We have a very specific way of working. We know that, as a team, we are dangerous and competitive.

“We also know that, over 40 weeks, Real Madrid and Barca will be streets ahead of us but in the day-to-day, we feel very close to them.

“When I first arrived, the first thing I said was that I wanted our team to be a nuisance. We’ve achieved that.

“By being a nuisance, I mean being competitive and letting our rivals know that to beat us, they will need to run three times as much as we do and work double.

We are an uncomfortable team to face and our opponents know it.

“At the beginning it was difficult to accept that there are other ways of playing because in Spain, most teams usually play in the same way, apart from during the final 10 games of the season when they need to pick up points.

“We understood that we needed to start racking up points right from the opening day – that’s how we live this game.

“We’re not following an idea as such but more the history of this club. Historically, Atletico has always been an aggressive, intense, counter-attacking side.”

Simeone also noted that while Atletico’s 1-0 win over Milan at San Siro in the Champions League puts the team in a good position, his experience of Serie A means he’s taking nothing for granted.

“Somebody told me the other day that Real Madrid have never won in Milan.

“It’s important for us but it’s not decisive. They’ll be out for revenge – I know what the Italians are like.”

Tags Diego Simeone