A relieved Diego Simeone credited the work of his players after Atletico Madrid marked his 400th LaLiga game in charge with a 2-0 win away to Elche on Wednesday.
Atleti also secured Champions League qualification with the victory, opening up a six-point gap to fifth-placed Real Betis via goals from Matheus Cunha and Rodrigo de Paul.
In Simeone’s 11 years at the club, Atleti have been able to disrupt the hegemony of Barcelona and Real Madrid, winning LaLiga, the Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup twice, as well the Copa del Rey.
Simeone showed humility after the win, saying the support he has at the club is rare, allowing for such an uncommonly long tenure.
“It’s an important moment because if it weren’t for all the players who have passed through the club it would be impossible,” he said post-match. “I am grateful and lucky because the club has always supported me. The back and forth is there, but I thank all the players that were here over this time and allowed me to have this possibility.
“I’m happy for the players, who had an irregular season. We competed very well in the Champions League and in LaLiga we couldn’t maintain regularity.
“The goal has already arrived. Deserved, we worked hard and that makes us return to the Champions League for another year. This is very important for the club.”
Simeone coached his 400th match as a coach in @LaLigaEN this Wednesday.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) May 11, 2022
As noted by Simeone, it has been an irregular season by Atleti’s notoriously conservative and defensive standards on the pitch.
The 41 goals the Colchoneros have conceded this term in the league make for the most over a full season since he took over as coach in December 2011.
Tensions have simmered in that respect and it was apparent again at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero, with Jan Oblak and Renan Lodi sharing a heated exchange before Cunha’s opener.
After Wednesday’s win, the 52-year-old conceded the defensive decline has been a difficult trade-off for stronger potency in attack, but had no issue with the Oblak and Lodi argument.
“If there are discussions, it’s good because the players are in the game and they’re alive,” he said. “I like this kind of thing because I feel that the players are in the game.
“I think this the year we’ve scored the most goals since I’ve been at the club. Also opponents have scored the most on us.
“That’s the balance that it cost us to find. We had Savic and Gimenez out, Reinildo did us a lot of good. He works very seriously and with humility. In front of goal we scored a lot of goals”
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