Simeone: "This group of players want to achieve something big"

Atlético coach Diego Simeone was pleased with his team's performance and result against Barcelona. "You can see the improvement from last season to this one".


Diego Pablo Simeone faced questions from the media after Saturday's 1-0 victory over Barcelona - his first LaLiga win against the Catalans as Atlético coach

Has this victory against Barcelona taken some of the pressure off? Are Atleti favourites to win the league?

In football, you have to take one game at a time. Sometimes you win, other times you might lose but in our last few games against Barca we have been closer to winning - and that's aside from when we beat them in the Super cup. Tonight it was our turn to win, but it doesn't really change anything about the direction we are aiming to put ourselves on. I'm very happy with the effort the team made, the way we read the game, our positioning in attack and defence and the players' understanding between them. There were some nice moves, like the one which led to Llorente hitting the bar. A goal arrived and that gave us some leeway to go in search of a second goal, which didn't come and so Barcelona always had a chance of getting back into the game and winning it.

The team is getting results and consistency to their game.

The players are doing really well, as I have been saying for a while. It's exciting to feel a part of this and when ideas are put into practice and start paying off, that's when the nicest thing happens - when everyone is giving everything they have got for the team. We've seen that in players like Hermoso and Herrera, who weren't playing as much last season. Now we need that energy to keep competing - on Wednesday we have another very tough game and we have to continue fighting.

Do you see any similarities to the last time Atleti won LaLiga?

No, no I don't see any.

Is there room for improvement?

Of course, we can already see how players have improved since last season. We are working better out on the pitch, we are playing more as a team and that's quite clear to see. We need everyone, from Felipe, who last season was playing more regularly, from Lodi, who I am sure is going to be important for us and Kondogbia who is gradually entering the team, Saúl is close to his best form, Correa has come on amazingly well, and that's not to speak of João Félix and the enthusiasm which Costa showed when he came on. All of that makes me feel enthusiastic, because I can see that they want to achieve something big but by taking one game at a time.

Carrasco played almost as a wing-back...

Vitolo played in that position against Osasuna, Saúl played there against Cádiz and today we thought about Carrasco. Having a structure in place with Hermoso, Giménez and Savic gives us  alternatives. It leaves Llorente free to hit on the counter, Saúl breaking up play, Koke involved in play through the middle with Carrasco and Trippier out wide and halfway up the pitch with Correa and João up front. I think the team played to win, which is what we always want to see.

Did you expect more from Barcelona?

That's a question for Barcelona's coach. I am only talking about what I always expect from them  and the best games I have seen them play; in Turin, they played with a similar style reinforcing the midfield. Both of us were looking to control the centre of the park and have the ball to penetrate the other's defence.