Simeone gets one over Barca after 10-year wait

MADRID • Diego Simeone finally savoured a league victory over Barcelona after 10 seasons in charge of Atletico Madrid but refused to discuss whether the 1-0 win on Saturday proved his side were capable of winning La Liga.

The Argentinian had tasted success over Barca - in the Champions League in 2014 and 2016 and last season's Spanish Super Cup - but had never taken three points off the Catalans since taking charge of Atletico in 2011.

Yannick Carrasco capitalised on a blunder by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, who had rashly charged out of his area, to nab the winner, leaving many to wonder if Simeone's men can repeat their title-winning heroics of 2013-14.

"We have come very close to beating Barca before, we beat them in Saudi Arabia, we had drawn at their ground and lost by very little here before," he said.

"Today it was our turn to win but it won't change our objectives."

While he dismissed comparisons between his current side and the squad which pipped Barca to the Spanish title on the final day of the season in 2014, Simeone praised his players for how they have kicked on despite undergoing an overhaul since last summer.

"The thing we value the most is how the players have grown from last season, they are much more capable of offering what the team needs," he said.

"Now we must maintain this energy and keep on competing."

Carrasco also shunned a question about their credentials, saying his teammates were only focusing on their Champions League game against Lokomotiv Moscow on Wednesday. But captain Koke, the only surviving member of that 2014 side, did not rule out the prospect, pointing to the early season problems of Barca and champions Real Madrid, who drew 1-1 at Villarreal earlier on Saturday.

He said: "The teams at the top are slipping up right now so why shouldn't we dream about winning La Liga?"

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    La Liga games before Atletico coach Diego Simeone's first win over Barca.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 23, 2020, with the headline 'Simeone gets one over Barca after 10-year wait'. Print Edition | Subscribe