MAJADAHONDA, Spain – Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone said on Saturday, a day before his side hosts Valencia in La Liga’s matchday 22, that offensive execution was a bigger factor in winning soccer games than the teams’ style of play or which squad spends more or less time in attack.
“There are no situations where you feel more comfortable (in attack). What makes you feel more comfortable is when you’re much sharper in your execution,” Simeone said in a press conference after a training session at Wanda sport city in Majadahonda, a suburb of Madrid.
He said Atleti’s 3-0 win last weekend over Las Palmas was a case in point, saying his team had chances in the first half and chances in the second half but that only in the latter did his players execute well.
The coach said the plan was to position Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco up front on the wings, just as he did in matches last month against Getafe, Girona and the second half of the Las Palmas contest.
“The toughest thing in soccer is always having a good transition from defense to attack, and for that you need people who are fast and above all a good clearance. It’s obviously my intention to be able to play this way (on Sunday), but I can also play with Gabi in the middle and Koke on the left side as always, which could be another way to play rapidly in transition. We’ll see what we think is best for tomorrow’s game,” Simeone said.
Diego Costa was not available for Atletico’s Jan. 28 3-0 victory over Las Palmas, but Simeone said the striker had recovered from a hamstring injury and would take the field against Valencia Sunday at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.
The coach also was full of praise for Valencia, which has rebounded after a pair of disappointing seasons and once again is in the thick of the battle for a Champions League berth.
“With their characteristics as a team, their style is very similar to ours. And they’re doing extraordinarily well this season. I said it at the start of (this) La Liga (season), that that was one of the teams that was on our radar in terms of fighting for important spots in Europe,” Simeone said.
Atletico (46 points) is currently in second place in La Liga with 17 games remaining, while Valencia is third with 40 points. Both are well behind league-leading FC Barcelona, which has 57 points.