Simeone: "I don't think any Atleti fans will be watching El Clásico"
El Cholo previewed tomorrow's visit from Espanyol: "I'm not going to allow my players to lose the competitiveness they have between themselves".
Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone looked ahead to tomorrow's home meeting with Espanyol and spoke about visiting coach Quique Sánchez Flores - a man who once occupied his position at the Calderón: "He's done a lot for the club”.
Tonic in the Cup
Do you think the derby was a turning point for Atleti? "It always hurts to lose an important match, but at the same time, the team has the strength to react and recover their competitiveness. We've lifted ourselves out of difficult situations before and it was important for us to do that. Bit by bit we are improving, and all of the players are gradually finding their rhythm. This week's Copa win was important in that it showed how all of the players who don't many opportunities are coming on, and that increases the competition for places - something which we are never going to lose. Internal competition makes us strong externally”.
El Clásico: “The only thing that interests us is our game, and what we do against Espanyol - that is what is going to help us grow as a team. We're not thinking about anything else”.
Espanyol: “Quique [Sánchez Flores] has done a lot of important things for this club - during times when things were anything but easy, when Atleti were not winning trophies. I remember going to watch the [UEFA Super Cup] final over in Monaco against Inter, as a fan - you could see what a great job he was doing. With Espanyol he started out with a team with some difficulties - more in defence than anywhere else because Espanyol are a good attacking team, and now they are much better. He's got good players, and when you have good players, you are a little closer to your objectives”.
Carrasco as centre-forward?: “It's another option for us. He's a player who needs space to run into. He's improved a lot in front of goal and that's good for him and good for the team. I see him more as an attacking midfielder. He has a few traits as a midfielder which allows him to drift wide but he can play in a more advanced role”.
Youth team players: “One of the objectives I always set out to do when I start a coaching job is to extract the very best from the younger lads - players who can give us other options - like Saúl and Thomas. Right now we are bring in kids who are young and need to improve their game. We are always keeping a close watch on the youth categories. It always gives us a lot of joy to give one of the younger lads a chance in the first team. But first they have to train with us and train well. We are always keeping an eye on them - even if it's just for 10 minutes. We want to see their attitude, their predisposition. We have an idea about them and when we can call on them".
Other things to think about
Barça and Madrid play earlier on Saturday. Will Atleti fans be eager to see how El Clásico turns out…: “I don't think any Atleti fans will be watching El Clásico tomorrow: our people will be thinking about Atlético, Espanyol. I don't want that to sound like a speech - it's just the way it is, it's reality”.
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