Diego Simeone says La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid are having a “marvellous” season, although he has reminded his players that they have achieved nothing yet.
Atletico were not at their best on Wednesday at home to Granada, but managed to grind out a 1-0 win thanks to Diego Costa’s 32nd goal of the season.
The victory moved Simeone’s side a point ahead of second-placed Barcelona in the table, and three clear of third-placed Real Madrid.
But the Atletico coach told his postgame news conference at the Estadio Vicente Calderon that his team need to keep taking things one game at a time, while putting in the same effort that had got them this far.
“I repeat, and I keep insisting, each game is so long, so hard, so difficult,” Simeone said. “This is a marvellous year, but they will judge us on how it ends, more than what we have done so far. If we can arrive at the last four or five games, we will lift ourselves a little more. Playing every three days will be difficult. It is not going to be easy. They [the players] are human beings, they work, they run… I am very happy with what they are doing.”
Second-half substitute Jose Sosa -- who took the corner from which Costa headed the winning goal -- made a key impact on the game, Simeone said.
“In the first half, the team was not precise enough,” he said. “[Granada] tried to play on the break and our defence did very well. Sosa’s entry gave us more speed in the connection between the midfield and attack. The team did enough to deserve to win.”
Simeone pointed to the situation at Real Madrid, who have slipped from first to third following back-to-back defeats to Barcelona and Sevilla, as an example of how things can change quickly.
“At half-time in [Sunday's] clasico, Madrid had the league finished and were going seven points ahead of Barca…” he said. “Now they are a few points back.”
The former Colchoneros midfielder said he nonetheless expected Carlo Ancelotti’s side to bounce back quickly.
“I am sure they will recover,” Simeone said. “They can arrive at the end of the season in the best way.”