Atletico Madrid host Huesca at the Wanda Metropolitano tomorrow evening, a crucial game in their challenge for La Liga. Los rojiblancos are the top of the table going into the game but without a great deal of margin for error, three points clear of Real Madrid and Sevilla, with a game in hand on the latter, and five clear of Barcelona, with a game played more than the blaugrana.
Diego Simeone’s men beat Eibar 5-0 at the weekend, a promising result given all signs had pointed to Atletico beginning to spiral negatively and fall into something of a slump. The victory against the struggling Basque side was just their second win in five, not the form one would expect of a team going for the title. Simeone will be hoping to draw upon his team’s mental fortitude and tactical nous in their own third, with Atletico conceding just 20 goals so far this season, the best return in the league.
“I think it’s very complicated,” LaLiga Santander player Saul Niguez, speaking at an event for LiveScore, said when asked the secret of Atletico’s defensive strength. “We’re very good at tactical work, and also the whole team works together.
“I think that is what makes the difference because maybe you can have a very good individual and tactical work, well executed, but if during the game there are one or two that don´t pressure or don´t run the same, or do it badly, they leave spaces in other parts of the field where you can be damaged.
“Therefore I think that the point is that we all work. We work at once and we know the importance of working as a collective and not the individual. Putting the team above the individual is something that is not done at every club.”
Despite the good work they’ve done so far this campaign, there’s a strand of thought that Atletico aren’t being given the credit they deserve. It’s an idea Saul agrees with. “[Are we getting what we deserve? Honestly, I would say no because right now we are first and everything we hear is negative, even though there are only seven games left of the season,” he said. “It is true that we had a bigger gap after the first round, which was very difficult to maintain because of everything.
“This year we’ve had covid-19, injuries, sanctions, so it has been a year where everything has happened to us but the teamwork, from those who play the most or those who play less, has been very good. That has not been easy to maintain after all that has happened. But I don’t think we receive all the respect we should because at the beginning of the season we all would have signed being in this position with seven games left.
“In previous years, when we get to this point of the season, we were fighting for third place or for first but always behind, never being ahead, it did not depend on us. I understand that we are less further away with the point difference now, obviously, but we are still first and the power is in our hands to win.”
Saúl Ñíguez was speaking at an event for LiveScore, Official Global Scoring Partner of LaLiga Santander. LiveScore’s iOS and Android app is available to download now at www.livescore.com/mobile.