A milestone match went to plan for the Argentine manager, but he insists his side will not stop
Diego Simeone has been taking his Atletico Madrid tenure “game by game” for nine years and now, 500 games in, is keen to ensure standards do not slip in 2021.
Luis Suarez’s eighth league goal for Atletico secured maximum points in midweek, which ensured Simeone’s high-flying side would head into the new year top of the table.
Reflecting on his approach when returning to Atleti as coach in December 2011, Simeone explained he has rarely looked beyond the next game – now Deportivo Alaves on Sunday.
“Since I arrived when I got together with Miguel [Angel Gil Marin, CEO] and Enrique [Cerezo, president], I told them let’s go game by game,” the 50-year-old said. “That is my feeling, playing each game as if it were the last until situations lead me to leave Atletico or not.”
As well as leading La Liga at the end of December, Atleti have completed a calendar year without losing at home in the league for the first time since 1998, winning 14 and drawing the other four of their 18 matches – but Simeone is not interested in their 2020 achievements, preferring to focus on the campaign as a whole.
8 – Luis Suárez has scored eight goals in his first 11 games for @atletienglish in #LaLiga equaling the best starting for a Atlético’s striker in the competition this century (Radamel Falcao in 2011). Tiger #AtletiGetafe #AtleticoMadrid pic.twitter.com/x2qyX3o1y7
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) December 30, 2020
“We cannot consider the years as a year but as a season,” he explained. “Last season we achieved our goal of reaching the Champions League and we managed to settle in that place that allows us to continue growing.
“So we started over. We started well, as we have been playing since the pandemic ended, with the team very motivated. Now we have to continue.”
Asked what his wish might be for the coming 12 months, though, Simeone highlighted the public health situation rather than his team’s title tilt.
“It would be too selfish if, in the moment we are living, we think about football,” Simeone said amid the coronavirus pandemic. “Hopefully we can hug a friend again, be able to celebrate a birthday again, get back to normal. Health – above all, I ask for health.”
Atleti’s latest win continued a remarkable record against Getafe under Simeone, playing 18 matches without conceding – 16 wins, two goalless draws – but Simeone guarded against complacency, adding: “These are situations.