‘Atleti just want to better last season’

Diego Simeone insists Atletico Madrid are only focused on “outdoing what we did last season” ahead of Sunday’s opening-day clash with Alaves in La Liga.

Atleti finished behind only Barcelona and Real Madrid in La Liga last term but reached the Champions League final, where they lost to their city rivals, and Simeone made it clear only an improvement on those achievements would constitute a successful campaign.

“I see the team to be very well, we’ve worked well although the group have been divided by the [late] arrival of players [from holidays],” the Coach began at a Press conference.

“There’s a lot of excitement and enthusiasm. It’s the first of our last games at the [Vicente] Calderon [ahead of next season’s move to La Peineta].

“I’ve seen several of [Alaves’] games. They have a new squad, but their style of play is quite clear: width in attack, players in the box and defensive clustering.

“There are only days left for us to complete our squad, or not. Until August 21, we’ll be open to departures or arrivals.

“We needed [Nicolas Gaitan]. He marks a leap in quality for us and is a player who will be given important minutes.

“[Sime] Vrsajko comes to improve and compete with Juanfran [at right-back].

“[Kevin] Gameiro has pace, is strong and we must take advantage of [his qualities].

“This season, [the squad] will be more difficult to pick, although it’s more balanced and competitive.

“[Atleti’s objectives are] improving our numbers [from last season] and outdoing what we did last season.

“We mustn’t step out of line from what we’ve achieved in the last four-and-a-half years.

“I don’t think much has changed. We’ll start with a 4-4-2, but we always change accordingly to what we see on the pitch and our opponents.

“We have players who are prepared to change, which isn’t easy. We have several options to mix things up.”

Tags Diego Simeone