Diego Simeone has praised the character and never-say-die attitude of his players after fighting back from 2-0 down to draw with Juventus.
Goals from Juan Cuadrado and Blaise Matuidi had appeared to put the Old Lady in control of the game in the second half, but Atleti fought back in the last 20 minutes.
Stefan Savic and Hector Herrera were both on target for Simeone’s side – who were eliminated from the competition by Juve last year – to earn an unlikely point.
“We were missing something in the first half and Juve stepped up after the break, but I liked the fact we never gave in and fought back for a result,” Simeone told his press conference after the match.
“We always tried to create situations where we could hurt Juve. Jose Maria Gimenez went close, as did Vitolo and Angel Correa, so it was a more than deserved point.
“I don’t see this draw as a good or bad result. Juve are very strong opponents with a lot of experience and an average age of 29 compared to our 24. Experience helps at this level and that is why matches like this can help us mature for what awaits in future.
“The important thing is not to lose intensity during the game and to maintain faith in our characteristics.”
Juventus lost here 2-0 last season with Max Allegri at the helm, but Maurizio Sarri has a very different philosophy of football.
“It will take time for Sarri to have what he has always shown at his other teams,” continued Simeone.
“Juve will always be dangerous, as they seem to be struggling, then just need two chances and they’ve scored two goals. They never lose their heads in the Champions League and with the players at their disposal, could go all the way. We’ll have to see if they do or not.”