Atletico Madrid has endured a tough week since ascending the top of La Liga standings on Feb 2nd: first, Diego Simeone’s men were beaten comprehensively, 3-0, by Real Madrid in the first game of its two-game Copa del Rey semifinal series on Wednesday; next, they were beaten 2-0 in the league on Sunday by lowly Almeria thanks to two goals in the final 10 minutes, including a questionable penalty decision on the second goal.
Despite the slip-up in both competitions, Simeone said he remains fully focused on achieving his objectives, which are to challenge for titles in three competitions. The Argentine said he has not given up on the return-leg of the Copa semifinal on Tuesday: “We still have the same mindset we have had all season,” he said. “We still believe we can win a series which has become very difficult for us to win in which everyone will need to go our way.” Simeone will be without star striker Diego Costa, who is suspended, as well as his partner David Villa, who is injured, for Tuesday’s game at the Vicente Calderon.
As for the defeat at Almeria, which saw Atletico fall to third in La Liga standings (although it is level on points with both Real and Barca): “We have to look at ourselves and concentrate on improving. We were top of the table but have since been overtaken by Madrid and Barca. That is the fruit of hard work.” He added: “I am not going to criticize a referee for giving a decision against us. I just focus on what concerns us. The controversial decisions are for you, who are great critics, to write about -- and that’s what you are paid to do.”
When asked if he thought Atleti was receiving the praise it deserves for challenging for so many trophies this season, Simeone said: “I think so, although the important thing in soccer is where you end up, not the journey.”