Simeone: Atleti mired in ‘most difficult’ season

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Diego Simeone believes this La Liga campaign has been his
toughest at Atletico Madrid, but the team now looks set to
secure Champions League qualification again.


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Since becoming Atleti coach in 2011, Simeone has overseen a
title triumph and two runs to the Champions League final, but
his side have had to fight hard for a place in the top four
this term.

After a 3-1 win over title-chasing Sevilla on Sunday, Atleti
are seven points clear of fifth-placed Villarreal, prompting
Simeone to reflect on a demanding campaign.

“We can talk about ourselves because we had a really tough end
of the last season — I have always said that,” he told a
post-match news conference.

“I think this season is the most difficult since I have been
here at the club. We have had so many injuries with [Jan]
Oblak, Augusto [Fernandez] and Tiago.

“Atletico couldn’t win at the beginning of the season, but we
could reinvent ourselves in order to turn the situation around.
I think the team is fitter, but we have to be quiet because
there are 10 matches left.”

Simeone hopes his side can close in on securing a top-four spot
and took encouragement from beating a third-placed Sevilla side
who he feels are enjoying a “great season”.

“It’s clear we have a seven-point gap to fifth because
Villarreal and Real Sociedad couldn’t win and that’s important
for us,” he added. 

“I think Sevilla are having a great season, they are praised by
the press and all the world, so I think this result shows our
value — we believe this is the level to follow and we look
ahead.”

But captain Gabi wants Atleti to chase down Sevilla after this
result, with the gap between them down to just two points.

“These were three vital points, and three points that change
our objectives for the season,” he said. 

“We’re secure in fourth place now and we’re going to go for
third.

“It was a very complete game from the whole team, we’re happy
with the result.”

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