A disappointing return of two points from their first three Group C matches leave Atleti’s proud European record under El Cholo under threat Atletico Madrid’s achievements over recent seasons mean they must accept criticism for their current poor run, according to head coach Diego Simeone.
Under Simeone’s management, Atleti have consistently performed above expectations – most notably in the 2013-14 season, when they beat heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid to title glory in La Liga. Atleti were also beaten 2014 and 2016 Champions League finalists, falling foul of Real Madrid who also saw them off at the semi-final stage last season.
A run so deep into the competition this time around looks fanciful at present, with Simeone’s men having taken two points from their opening three matches in Group C ahead of Tuesday’s home match with Qarabag. In La Liga, Atletico are unbeaten in 10 matches but have drawn five. “Our success in the last few years in all competitions means that if we don’t get an excellent result there’s criticism, but we need to live with that if we want to achieve excellence,” Simeone told a pre-match news conference. “We have a responsibility tomorrow. It’s an important match for the club, the fans, the players, me. “We’ll play it knowing this. We want to do well and carry on growing and will go into it like that.” Atleti trained at their old Vicente Calderon home as part of their final preparations for the match at the gleaming Wanda Metropolitano.
Despite that seemingly evocative attempt to rally his squad, Simeone remains under no illusions over where the buck stops. “The boss is always responsible for what happens on the pitch. I’m not shirking any of that,” he said. “We haven’t started that well in the Champions League. We deserved to win in Rome and Chelsea were very good here. “We could’ve done better in the first meeting between these two sides. We’ve got a marvellous opportunity in front of us and we’re ready for it.” Simeone added: “
You always fret over results. Any coach will tell you that. You always want to improve, to win, to reach the club’s objectives. “We want Atletico to be amongst the best sides in the world. It’d be bad if I wasn’t worried – if I were relaxed then that would be bad.”
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