Diego Simeone felt Sunday’s capital derby against Real Madrid was Atletico Madrid’s “to win” but praised his side for their response in the second half.
Los Colchoneros seemed to be heading for a defeat to their bitter rivals following Karim Benzema’s early goal, until Luciano Vietto earned them a point with seven minutes remaining, and the Coach highlighted the contrast between his team’s performance before and after the break.
“The feeling is that the game was ours to win and dropped two points,” he said after the game.
“In the first half, except for the first 10 or 12 minutes, the team created some good openings through [Angel] Correa, in addition to the penalty, but [Madrid] found the goal and became more comfortable on the pitch.
“In the second half, the feelings were much better for us. We went from less to more, got the draww and forced Navas into saving his team from defeat.
“[Dani Carvajal, who was replaced by Alvaro Arbeloa due to injury] was the player who caused us the most damage in the first half.
“We started with [Yannick] Carrasco on the left and took advantage of that wing, while Griezmann felt liberated and played with much more freedom.
“When you’re facing players like Benzema and Cristiano [Ronaldo], you’re more likely to believe that you’re posed more danger on the counterattack, but Benzema’s departure helped us in that respect.
“We were closer to our desired level to be in the second half, although we’re still not where we want to be.
“We must bear in mind that the players who have joined came from important teams but are still very young, and it’s not easy to integrate into a structure like Atletico’s.
“Still, 13 points at this stage is a good return.
“We’ve now played against Real Madrid, Barcelona, Sevilla and Villarreal, but it’s still a competitive League and the most entertaining, despite all the injuries to the top teams.
“When players like [Lionel] Messi, [Andres] Iniesta, James [Rodriguez], Danilo or Koke are out, you must adapt to life without them.
“We’re all competing well and seeing a more enjoyable competition, with more top teams.”