Diego Simeone has asserted that Atletico Madrid will never change their style of play under his tutelage ahead of Sunday’s match against Sporting Gijon.
There is a growing consensus that Los Colchoneros’ direct approach has been found out after two straight draws, including a surprise stalemate at Astana in the Champions League, but the Coach insists his side will always stay true to their roots.
“For those of you who don’t yet know what Atletico Madrid are about, I’d like to invite you to training and find out for yourselves,” he said at a Press conference.
“[Our philosophy remains] hard work, pressure, counterattacks and defensive solidity. That’s what Atletico have always been about.
“Whoever wants us to change [our philosophy] are going against Atleti’s history.
“You can play well in different ways. Some choose to play well by having lots of possession and some by counterattacking.
“Historically, and especially for the fans, just so people don’t try to confuse them, I’d like to remind them that Atletico are all about hard work, effort, counterattacking and being competitive.
“We’ve always been successful when sticking to these principles, and we won’t not change. We’ll try to stay on this path, regardless of what people say.
“We must create chances and be both a strong team and clear about what we do. It’s us who push ourselves and are most attentive to details.
“It’s clear that, after four-and-a-half years, we’ve worked well, always competing in the best way possible and pushing ourselves. That’s good and healthy.
“It’s also clear that any football-related criticism helps to improve you, but criticism not linked to football doesn’t concern us. We’re still playing the same way [as we did in the past].
“What’s clear is that the intention, beyond the players’ characteristics, is to always reinforce the structure of the team and that all the players fit.
“Diego Ribas had talent and adapted, Arda [Turan], [David] Villa, Adrian [Lopez] … We’ve always used skilful players on the wings, except Raul Garcia, who has different characteristics but more effort, hard work and applicability.
“He resembles what has given us the leap in quality, working with more talent but always with a clear idea.
“[On Koke’s position], I still think he can play in the middle [of midfield], no doubt, but Gabi is fine there, so Koke will stay on the left.
“We need more supply [to Fernando Torres and Jackson Martinez] from the wings so they stay in the box as much as possible.
“It’s one of the details we must improve on, but we’ve never been a team who create 20 chances per game.
“What’s also clear is that we’ve scored considerably less goals from set-pieces this season.
“I think it’s on the basis that our opponents are now determined to work better defensively against us, but we’ll try to regain [our set-piece prowess].
“Sporting are an interesting team. I’ve been surprised by how good they’ve been, especially going forward.
“It’ll be an important game and hopefully we’ll play it on our terms.”