Diego Simeone has hit out at criticism of Atletico Madrid’s playing style ahead of their Champions League quarterfinal second leg with Manchester City, saying he’s « never disrespected » a fellow manager by condemning the way their team plays.
Atletico’s defensive 5-5-0 formation saw them fail to register a single shot on goal during their 1-0 first leg defeat at the Etihad on April 5, with City manager Pep Guardiola saying « in prehistory, now, and in 100,000 years’ time, attacking a 5-5-0 is very difficult. »
– Stream ESPN FC Daily on ESPN+ (US only)
– Don’t have ESPN? Get instant access
« I always put myself in the place of the coaches I compete against, » Simeone said in a news conference on Tuesday, when asked about widespread criticism of Atletico’s first leg approach.
« There are different ways of expressing yourself. Opinions from journalists, ex-players, people who haven’t played for a long time and want to say something different… Words are free.
« Everyone can have an opinion. Everybody has their own way of doing things and I choose mine, which is to always, always, always respect my colleagues. »
Atletico went into the first leg against City in their best form of the season, on an eight-game unbeaten run — but have now lost their last two matches, following the defeat in Manchester with a 1-0 loss to Real Mallorca in LaLiga on Saturday.
« We won’t stray far from what we do, » Simeone said when asked about his tactics for Wednesday’s second leg.
« Let’s hope we can combine better, have quicker transitions, take advantage of counter-attacks with more precision, and that our experienced players can have a fantastic night… In one game, anything can happen. »
Atletico captain Koke — who appeared annoyed by Guardiola’s « prehistory » comment after the first leg, responding on social media — also defended Atletico’s style on Tuesday.
« People outside can say what they want, but we have a plan and we’ll try to execute it at the Wanda, » he said.
« Everyone has his philosophy of play. I really like how Manchester City play, and I love how Atletico Madrid play, with passion and enthusiasm and grit. I love the two styles. »