‘Atletico need a new stimulus’

Diego Simeone believes the time has come to change the way Atletico Madrid play in an effort to prevent the team becoming stale.

Cholo has spoken at length with AS, reflecting on the season just ended, the one to come, and the Champions League final.

On the 2014-15 campaign the Coach considered it a job well done, particularly after a summer that saw the then-champions gutted.

“The season was very positive. Winning the Supercopa was a very good step. And third place was the aim of the club as it enables us to keep growing. We have the chance to return to the Champions League,” the Coach remarked.

“There won’t be as many replacements this year. The players who come will be there to compete in places we had deficiencies as a team.

“Last summer the players who left were taken by their release clauses. Thibaut Courtois was gone, Diego Costa, and there were many others who left, like Diego and David Villa. The truth is there were a lot of departures. This season we will keep the base of the team.

“It’s not like last year. 10 players left, five of them regulars. Tiago Mendes left and came back. This year we’re not going to lose five regulars. We’ll be closer to enhancing the good we did last year, because we did good things.”

The Argentine continued, however, by speaking of the need to refresh the approach in order to ward off complacency.

“We’re in an important situation. The team needs a change, a new stimulus. I think it’s not easy for a Coach to be so long with the same players. And it isn’t easy for the players,” he admitted.

“We’ve spent a lot of time together. They know my strengths, my weaknesses, and I know theirs. I’m convinced we need a change, an internal movement where the team takes a step forward.

“The way I see it, for example, is for Koke to go in the double pivot. That is going to start generating a team from another idea. And we need that. I’m convinced it’s that time.

“We’re a team more ready to play in space. In the last game against Real Madrid we wanted players to move quickly from defence to attack. So Saul Niguez played, Koke, and Antoine Griezmann on the left. That’s why we fought for the ball and tried to play good combinations.”

Simeone, when asked about next season, pointed to Madrid as the team to be wary of, as he doesn’t believe Los Blancos can keep missing out on the title.

“They can’t go seven years and only win the League once. That’s not normal. On one hand that scares me and I worry about it, not because we intend to fight for the title, but because it will be a difficult League,” he added.

“Barcelona come from winning the treble. One thing that’s clear is that it will be a difficult League. Barca are going to have to be concerned.

“In the last four seasons we’ve found a way of competing with them. That doesn’t mean you always win. But to play against us makes them uncomfortable, and that makes us happy. It makes us stronger.”

Tags Diego Simeone