Simeone pledges Atletico future ahead of clash vs. Barcelona
Diego Simeone has said he will stay with Atletico Madrid if they continue to grow as they have been doing as the Rojiblancos prepare for a mouthwatering Copa del Rey quarterfinal showdown with Barcelona.
Simeone has transformed Atletico into genuine European powerhouses since taking over in 2011 and, inevitably, his name has been linked with a host of managerial posts across the continent. However, with the possibility of new investment coming into the club from China, Atletico’s rise looks set to carry on – and that could be good news for the capital club in more ways than one.
Simeone, who has guided Atletico to the Primera Division, Europa League and Copa del Rey titles as well as reaching the Champions League final last season, told Radio America 1190 in Argentina, "If things keep growing as they are growing I will not move from Atleti. I see that Atleti want to continue growing and that also allows me to get better."
Atletico are still in the hunt for three trophies this season, lying third in La Liga and through to the Round of 16 of the UEFA Champions League. They are also in the last eight of the Copa del Rey, having knocked arch-rivals and holders Real out in the previous round, and their reward for that is a meeting with another Spanish giant, Barca.
Barca beat Atletico 3-1 in the league earlier this month thanks to goals from star attacking trio Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez, and Simone is bracing his side for another tough night on their return to the Nou Camp this week.
"We’re facing one of the best Barcelona sides of recent times. They’ve changed things with regards their manner of pressing, they give the ball away less, they react quicker and close down space well," Simone said at his pregame press conference on Tuesday. "We know that every minute of the match will be important for the return leg."
Barca looked a club in crisis not so long ago, but convincing victories over Elche (9-0 on aggregate), Atletico and Deportivo La Coruna (4-0) have eased the pressure a bit on coach Luis Enrique. Luis Enrique said ahead of Wednesday’s first leg: "I haven’t felt that we’ve been playing for me in any game. The only thing that we’re playing for is getting through a two-legged tie against a fearful opponent."
As well as the Barca-Atletico clash, the remaining three quarter-final ties all involve Primera Division sides. Villarreal host Getafe on Wednesday, while on the same night Athletic Bilbao make the long trip to the south coast to take on Malaga.
The other first leg takes place on Thursday, when in-form Sevilla, who have moved up to fourth in La Liga and have won nine of their last 10 competitive matches, face Espanyol.