Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone ruefully admitted he and his players had got it wrong after his side were resoundingly beaten 2-0 by title rivals Real Madrid in Saturday’s derby in La Liga.
Casemiro’s first-half header and an own goal from Atleti keeper Jan Oblak after the interval conceded a commanding victory to derby rivals Madrid and ended Atletico’s unbeaten run in the league, although they still lead in the LaLiga race.
“Today we played very badly, the coach did not have the lucidity to interpret the game better and the team did not do what was asked of them,” Simeone told a news conference.
“I’ll take some important lessons from the defeat, there are areas I need to improve in as a coach as they were far superior to us, anyone could see that.
“We were poor in the first half, we could not move the ball around well.
“We didn’t play the game we wanted to but now we have to stick together and vent our anger in private among ourselves, which has always served us well in the past.”
Atletico entered the game after beating RB Salzburg 2-0 to secure their place in the Uefa Champions League last 16 but were sent out of the park by their neighbours, with Simeone saying they were feeling drained after their trip to Austria.
“We deserve all the criticism we are getting but we made a huge effort the other day, we were anxious to not get knocked out of the Champions League and we were emotionally exhausted,” Simeone said.
“It’s not an excuse, but it’s a reality.”
Real also played a crucial Champions League game, beating Borussia Moenchengladbach to progress to the knockout stage, but showed little tiredness as they rose to third and cut the gap with Atleti to three points albeit having played a game more.
Simeone provoked the outrage of the club’s record signing Joao Felix when he took off the lively Portuguese on the hour mark and replaced him with Saul Niguez while leaving on fellow forward Luis Suarez who had offered very little.
Suarez did come off later for Geoffrey Kondogbia and Atletico finally got their first shot on target but they were unable to find a goal to get them back in the match.
The Argentine coach defended his decisions, however.
“I did what I felt the game required, I wanted to have fresher legs in midfield and attack, the game was going Madrid’s way and we wanted to compete better,” he said.
“I understand when a player gets angry because they feel they could have done more, but you’ll have to ask the player why he was angry.
“In the second half we were closer to the team we have been recently. But you can always have a bad game, a coach can always make a mistake and a player can always get angry.
It’s part of football.”