Simeone's view on how Atleti fans might react to Griezmann
Simeone faced the media ahead of Atleti's game in Cornellà and spoke about Griezmann's return to the club, competition for places in attack...
Diego Simeone faced the media via Zoom to look ahead to tomorrow's game against Espanyol in Cornellá and Antoine Griezmann's return. It was the Atleti coach's first press conference since the transfer window closed and the French striker's return to the club, two years after he left to join Barcelona, has prompted many to suggest that the Rojiblancos have the best squad in LaLiga.
Griezmann: “I found Griezmann was really keen to come back to Atleti. He is very enthusiastic about being back and part of the team. I image that Atlético fans will be as demanding with Griezmann as they are with us, on a daily basis. Atlético are very demanding and it's normal that they will want to see the best from Griezmann as they do every day from the rest of us”.
Best squad: “When anyone talks about the best or worst or average squad, a slim or large squad, it can only really be measured in relation to what happens over the course of the season. Names do not make a team, men do. We will be playing against a difficult, complex side tomorrow, a team which is comfortable playing at their own ground, a tough game in which fitness is going to be a factor - like every game in LaLiga”.
Is this the best attack you have had as a coach? “At River Plate, maybe you might not remember these names, but there were players like Abreu, Alexis, Falcao, Buonanotte, Rosales, Ríos… All of them were very good forwards, important players,who were at River during the season when we won the league”.
The way Griezmann left Atleti; can you understand why some fans are still annoyed? “I understand absolutely everything - especially what we need to continue competing in the best way possible and looking for what is best for the team and for the club”.
What are you hoping for this season? “To improve on what we did last season. We didn't do well in the Copa del Rey, or in the Champions League; we competed well but we would have liked to have gone a little further in both competitions. We have the Super Cup in January... So we involved in four important competitions and hopefully we can do well again in LaLiga. We want to improve on our figures from last season”.
Griezmann, Luis Suárez, João Felix. Can they play together? Will you need to make changes behind the attack? “We can play with the characteristics of the players we have. We can play with four behind them, or three. Competition for places has increased in attack. Apart from the three you mentioned there are Correa, Lemar and Cunha. They are the options we have for those three places. It's good that we have that healthy competition, it's beneficial to the fans, the club…”.
Conflict with players called up for their national teams: “I can tell you what I think as a coach but it won't have any influence at all so I keep my thoughts to myself. As a player, I never gave up the chance to play a game with the national team. And now as a coach, I always want my players with me to prepare for our games in the best possible way”.
The best squad of your coaching career: “As I said before, you can only speak of good, bad or average at the end, when the season is over. It's easy to talk about names but you still men to put in the hard graft and effort out on the pitch, players who work as a team”.