Simeone’s side currently tops the LaLiga table, with a one-point lead over second-ranked Real Sociedad, but with two games in hand.

Diego Simeone admires Real Madrid squad

Atletico Madrid made their way into the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday night after beating RB Salzburg 2-0 in Austria. However, Diego Simeone was questioned on upcoming Los Rojiblancos derby against Real Madrid after the match. Simeone’s side currently tops the LaLiga table, with a one-point lead over second-ranked Real Sociedad, but with two games in hand. Real Madrid, meanwhile, are six points behind Atletico in fourth and have one game in their hands. “I don’t see it as the end of the title race with so many matches to go,” Simeone said after the Salzburg victory. “Real Madrid are a great team. They know their players like no other, they always generate change when they face the pressure of any game, and they compete. I admire them, and they are the players and the coach who compete every year. It is not simple.”

The Argentine coach looks back and enjoys it with happiness

The Salzburg match saw a couple of rumblings of discontent, with Saul Niguez and Luis Suarez showing their dissatisfaction as being brought off. Yet, Diego Simeone understands why. “It is logical, and I would have gotten out of my anger too,” he explained. “These are games you want to play for 90 minutes. When it’s your turn to get off for a teammate who walks in with hope, it’s clear that they come off angry”. The work Simeone has done at Atlético is incredible, with the club making it to the Champions League knockout stages just twice before his arrival. The Argentine has admittedly gotten his stats a little bit wrong, stating that they qualified in the last 16 eight times out of nine when it’s seven out of eight, but that’s an impressive record nonetheless.

“I think that of the nine years that we have been here, we have qualified for the last 16 eight times,” Simeone mused. “I look back and enjoy it with happiness. For many, it is normal, but for me, it is not normal; it is important to be in the last 16 in the eighth year among the best.”