Atlético: Simeone admits admiration for Real Madrid ahead of derby
Diego Simeone previewed Saturday's derby between LaLiga leaders Atlético Madrid and defending champions Real Madrid.
Atlético Madrid coach Diego Simeone revealed his admiration for city rivals Real Madrid ahead of Saturday's Madrid derby. Madrid welcome neighbours and LaLiga leaders Atlético to Estadio Alfredo Di Stéfano, with Simeone's men holding a one-point advantage over Real Sociedad atop the table. Defending champions Madrid are six points off the pace and while Atlético have only lost one of their last eight derbies in LaLiga, keeping seven clean sheets, Simeone is wary of their eternal rivals.
"You have to admire Real Madrid"
"It is a nice game where there are fantastic football players in both teams. Real Madrid has been competing at the highest level for many years," Simeone told reporters ahead of the game. "As I said yesterday, I feel admiration for our opponent and the players they have. They are maintaining a great level despite the amount of time they have been on top. Some of them they are 33, 34 or 35 and they are still young in their minds. That's the most important thing. And this is something to admire, even if it is an historic rival for us. We are keeping our way, leading the game in the areas where we can hurt them. And there, we will be playing a game which surely will be beautiful."
Atlético have failed to win in their last eight LaLiga games against Madrid – drawing five games and losing three – after winning four of the previous six against their rivals in the competition. But Simeone's team have won their last seven LaLiga games, keeping a clean sheet in six matches – last winning eight or more in a row in the competition in March-April 2014. After winning his first LaLiga game as coach against Atleti in February 2016, Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane is unbeaten in his last six games against the Argentinian in the league.
Luis Suárez's record against Real Madrid
As for Atlético forward Luis Suárez, he has scored nine goals in his 11 LaLiga games against Madrid but has failed to score in his last two, his longest run without scoring against the Spanish giants. "Every footballer has ups and down," Simeone said of Suárez. "We shouldn't forget Luis has gone through coronavirus. I think his last game was in Ecuador… around twenty days with no competition. So, it is normal he needs time to get back to his best. Luis is a very important player for us. A striker who has goals in his DNA. Saturday is an important game for him and for the team. So, hopefully he can give his best during the time he is on the pitch."