Atletico Madrid are heading to Barcelona on Sunday looking to take a scalp, and set out their title credentials too. One of the most interesting questions will be how Diego Simeone approaches the match.
Generally, he has approached matches against Barcelona and Real Madrid sitting deeper and looking to counter, which was the case again during their September 3-1 win over Los Blancos, but week to week they have gone after opponents. Keeping more of the ball, and still retaining a verticality, Atletico Madrid have been one of the most exciting sides to watch – only Girona have scored more goals this season.
Atletico Madrid President Enrique Cerezo explained to Cadena SER that El Cholo had an epiphany last season.
“I’ve know ‘Cholo’ since we took him from Sevilla when I was vice president, I kew him when he came from Lazio when I was already president, and I’ve known him since he arrived as a coach. I have always had a magnificent and wonderful relationship with him. He is a very smart guy and he has a great virtue, he is also intelligent.”
“He knows very well what he has to do in each game. He has realised that with the players he has now he can play a different type of football than he did in another era, that maybe they were better or worse, but he is adapting to the circumstances of what he has. Now he is playing on the attack and before, according to critics, he played defensively.”
🎙️| Rodrigo Riquelme: “Diego Simeone has always been a very honest person with me. He has guided me a lot throughout my career. I’m in a moment where I feel his trust. He saw that I was ready to wear the Atlético de Madrid shirt, and I’m trying to help, which is what I’ve always… pic.twitter.com/7p63zDh4qt
— Atletico Universe (@atletiuniverse) November 30, 2023
Cerezo’s statements are hard to deny for regular watchers of Los Colchoneros, and it is something that goalkeeper Jan Oblak also sees.
“It’s clear that football evolves, and so do the players. I would say that we are playing a little differently than we did in the past, which is something completely normal… The truth is that we are doing things very well, and we have to continue down this road because the important thing is the next game, as Cholo Simeone says,” he explained to Marca.
“Before we didn’t have this style, but I’ve been playing for Atletico Madrid for quite a few years now, (evolving) is something that has to be done. Your muscles don’t suffer as much when you pass the ball to your defender compared to when you have to kick the ball to the other side of the pitch. I like this change and we are doing everything we can so we can win three points.”
Los Rojiblancos switched their style of play after the World Cup last season, and while it took some time for the play to accompany the results, Atletico Madrid have now been the most impressive, and the most successful side in La Liga through the calendar year. The injection of hungry youngsters like Samuel Lino and Rodrigo Riquelme has only aided them in their more adventurous approach too.