Diego Simeone faced the media this afternoon to preview Atlético's opening game in this season's Copa del Rey against Elche. The coach confirmed that the less-habitually-used members of his squad, such as Augusto and Gaitán will be handed a run-out at the Martínez Valero tomorrow night.
Some commentators have compared Atlético's style of football to Valencia's. Does it annoy you that they imply Atleti don't play attractive football?
It's not for me to judge what other people think. You should always respect other people's opinions, I am open to any kind of opinion; it's normal for people to be critical - whether it's positive or negative criticism. I don't get overexcited by positive opinions or depressed by negative ones. As for Valencia, when we played there I said beforehand that we would be in for a competitive match - they have a good coach and great players. They are a dynamic, aggresive team, who defend well.
The Copa del Rey, an important competition for Atlético
Will you be making many changes to your team? Will Saúl play? It will be special for him to return to his hometown...
We're more concerned about the importance of the game. It's special for Saúl for everything to do with his family and his own relationship with Elche. But we are thinking about how we can resolve this tie in the best way possible; the Copa is a reference for us, it's a competition which has always brought us happiness. We have been thinking about which players we can hand opportunities to - the players who haven't featured as much, we'll be trying to reserve our energies bearing in mind the run of games we have coming up: Saturday, Tuesday, Saturday…
Augusto to start against Elche
What about Augusto?
He's getting better in training, he'll be given the playing time he needs in Elche. He knows - we've told him, and now you know. When he's at his best he is an important player for us because his reading of the game, the way he can play the ball between lines, his personality… hopefully we'll see the best version of Augusto so he can give us a hand when we need him.
What's happened to Gaitán?
He needs the coach to give him more playing time. He's never had six or seven games in a row to show what he can do - and when he has played, it's only been on a handful of occasions out wide on the left where he plays best. I've tried to compensate by fielding Carrasco over on the other side to supply him with passes. It's clear that he feels more comfortable playing on the left and I assume the responsibility of not giving him the minutes he needs to demonstrate his place in the side.
You seem to be rotating the team more than ever...
With players like Lucas, Thomas and Correa knocking on the door for a place now we have increased the possibility of forming a competitive team. After that, it will be down to my intelligence or capacity to be able to read which players can give us something in our next game. I'll be taking some players from the reserves to help the club out, because we are in a moment when we can't sign anyone.