“We are the champion, they are going to go out and bite our ass and we press badly!”, Diego Pablo Simeone snapped last Wednesday before stopping training and continuing with the rapapoor to his players. His barracks cry was the starting gun for the competitive tone with which the Argentine coach intends for Atlético to start the defense of the league title this Sunday in Vigo (17.30, Movistar LaLiga).
Inside doors, during the preseason, Simeone has dedicated himself to educating his players that rivals will compete with him under the label of being the champion. Out has asked them low profile. He doesn’t want to hear from his players that they are favorites to win the title. Neither that Messi will no longer leave Barcelona nor that Real Madrid, for the moment, only count Alaba as a summer acquisition push the rojiblanco coach to abandon his everlasting speech. “We will not change our path, which is game by game, understand what the League is like and there is no way to compete better than how we have been doing in the last nine and a half years,” he warned this Saturday.
The Argentine midfielder Rodrigo de Paul, from Udinese for 35 million euros, has been the only relevant acquisition. A midfielder destined to improve the team’s packaging in the middle. “He finished the holidays earlier to adapt to what the team wants. It is important in transition, vision of the game, he has a good stop ball, goal … but I do not discover anything who saw Udinese or Argentina in the Copa América. We will see if he can immediately adapt to what the team needs and will enter a midfield with great competition. Kondogbia, Herrera, Koke, Lemar, Llorente and he will surely compete for that position ”. Simeone did not mention Saúl, who, for the moment, continues, despite the fact that both the player and the club agree that the best would be a way out.
Until now, no club has offered what Atlético intends or has approached the amounts that the midfielder receives. He was immersed in the frustrated exchange for Griezmann, but Barcelona demanded a salary reduction. Despite his reluctance to play behind, the left-back is the location that the coach has in store for him. “I see Saúl in the same way as in the last eight years. Its greatest virtue is how multifunctional it can be for the team and the variations it gives us in its game. I keep thinking the same as always, ”said Simeone. Saúl is convinced that his depreciation in the last two seasons and his absence from the European Championship have to do with the constant changes in position and the frequency with which he has been used as a winger.
Atlético preserves the framework of the team that won the championship intact. An advantage that Simeone does not disdain, but yearns for a striker who oxygenates Luis Suárez. The Uruguayan, like Trippier and Lodi, is in full swing after being among the last to join. The hiring of Rafa Mir, from Wolverhampton and with whom the club had a four-year deal, has been paralyzed for the moment. The club says to look for either a pure nine or a second point that can function as an attack reference in specific situations.
The gap in the attack point has led to the coach’s son, Giuliano, having played all the preseason games. Simeone speaks naturally of the incorporation of his offspring, although he is aware that he has taken a step that forces him to carefully measure the decisions he makes. In a locker room the presence of family members of a coach is not usually comfortable because the line to be passed is very thin. “He is working very well, we have seen him quite mature for his 18 years. He has things to improve and we will see in his evolution if he continues with us or goes down to B as would be the most normal thing, ”Cholo replied when asked if the boy had the necessary level to belong to the first team. At the moment, he is scheduled for the duel this afternoon in Vigo.
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