Guardiola cheers unconditional support for Simeone as City handed Atlético draw
Pep Guardiola is experiencing the same thing at Manchester City, and he says the key to Atlético Madrid's success has been constant support from the board.
Pep Guardiola knows he must not allow Diego Simeone's Atlético Madrid to smother Manchester City when the teams clash in the Champions League quarter-finals. The City manager was impressed by how Atlético accounted for Manchester United in the previous round, preventing the Red Devils imposing their game on the second leg at Old Trafford.
Another trip to Manchester for Atleti
A 0-1 win for Atlético carried Simeone's team through to the last eight as 2-1 aggregate winners, and now Guardiola and Simeone – arguably the two best coaches in world football – will go head to head on the touchline.
Guardiola believes Simeone has a job for as long as he wants it at Atlético, pointing to that security and board support as being telling in the success the club have had, notably in winning last season's LaLiga title. He also acknowledges that Atleti are so expert in the tenacious style they play, that even a team of City's level can be majorly tested.
"They are what they are, and they're able to avoid who you are. This is the biggest quality of Atlético Madrid," Guardiola said on Friday. "You try to impose your game but sometimes it is so difficult."
Simeone's resilient side
Simeone is regarded as a master of stifling opposition teams, and drawing from his own players an unmatched work rate. "But if he likes to not concede goals, I like it more than him," Guardiola said. "If I want to win games, I like it more than him. I like the counter-attacks the same like him." The City boss added: "I saw the first 15, 20, 25 minutes against Man United and United could not breathe, they made intensive high pressing."
The quarter-final will be the first ever meeting between City and Atlético in European competition, while Guardiola was eliminated in his last meeting with the Rojiblancos in the knockout stages of this competition, when his Bayern Munich side were beaten in the 2015-16 semi-finals. City will be at home first leg on 5 April, and travel to Madrid for the return game on 13 April.
What Guardiola is certain about is that Simeone's bosses have his back, which the City boss believes has underpinned the team's success. "When this happens, you have an incredible achievement as a club and institution," he explained. "The most important thing that happens in that club is that Simeone will not be sacked, and all the players know he is the manager and he will be the manager. All the players know the hierarchy support the manager unconditionally for the fact of the results they had in the past."
Atlético have been unable to match last season's domestic performance this time around, with Real Madrid the runaway leaders in LaLiga, but Guardiola admires how there has been no sense of panic, or rush to do anything radically different. "We're going to try, knowing it will be difficult in both our games against them," the City boss said. "You have to be clever. They wait for the right moment. Every game they have chances to score a goal. We're going to a nice stadium with incredible supporters, and we're going there to reach the semi-final. Hopefully they're worried to play against us."