Diego Simeone: Atletico Madrid will find 'right path' amid struggles
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has called on his team to show their mental strength as they go to Celta Vigo on Sunday without a win in their last four games.
Since beating Athletic Bilbao in La Liga on Sept. 20, Atletico have drawn with Leganes and Barcelona domestically, while a defeat at home to Chelsea and a 0-0 draw at Qarabag in the Champions League have seriously endangered their chances of progress in the Champions League.
However, Atletico have won on four of their last five visits to Balaidos, a ground where Barcelona and Real Madrid have both encountered difficulties in recent years, and Simeone is confident they will bounce back.
"I have a very competitive and mentally strong team," Simeone told his prematch news conference. "We are going to keep competing, as we have been these last six-and-a-half years. Over the season there are different situations. Football is not easy, but we are in this situation now.
"It would really be worrying if we had stopped being ourselves. The year we won La Liga, we lost in Almeria, who were relegated. I did not get carried away when we won in Bilbao, and I did not get too down when we drew in Baku. We must find some stability. We will find the right path."
Playmaker Koke is out of Sunday's game with a hamstring strain, while winger Yannick Carrasco also misses the trip due to a knee issue.
"[Koke] still has some issues, so he will rest for this game," Simeone said. "Yannick will not be with us tomorrow. He has been making a big effort to help the team this season despite his knee. I am happy with his attitude."
Simeone was not asked about reports that Atletico are interested in signing Celta midfielder Nemanja Radoja, a 24-year-old Serbia international whose contract contains a €20 million release clause.
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan