Diego Simeone insists there are plenty of positives to take from Monday’s 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo despite the disappointment of conceding an 89th-minute equaliser.
Los Rojiblancos looked set to restore their 10-point lead over Barcelona and Real Madrid at LaLiga’s summit after a Luis Suarez brace overturned Santi Mina’s opener for Celta.
They were denied a ninth consecutive top-flight win, however, when substitute Facundo Ferreyra – making his debut after joining from Benfica on transfer deadline day – bundled home from close range late on.
Despite that late blow, Atleti still have an eight-point lead at the top of the table and boast a game in hand on their rivals.
They are unbeaten in 22 home league games – their best run in the competition since a 22-match streak between September 2015 and October 2016 – while their tally of 51 points after 20 games is their best at this stage of the season since they last won the league in 2013-14.
Simeone refused to be too harsh on his side after Ferreyra’s late leveller and felt there were plenty of plus points to take into next weekend’s game at Granada.
The post-match reaction from our captain
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) February 8, 2021
“It is normal that during the season, with the number of games there are, things will happen like this,” he told a news conference.
“Today, we continue on our way, match by match, and I am left with many positive things that were taken from negative things.
“Some players came in, took their opportunity, and played very good games, such as [Renan] Lodi, [Geoffrey] Kondogbia and [Lucas] Torreira. Those are important things for the future.
“It was a difficult start for us. They played well. I think there were not many chances in the first half for anyone, but they did feel more comfortable with possession.
“In the second half we improved with the change of system to have one more in the middle and take one from behind. Kondogbia and Torreira managed to press higher.”
Suarez’s latest double took his tally to 16 goals in his first 17 league games for Atleti, overtaking Cristiano Ronaldo as the fastest player to reach 16 goals for the same club in the competition in the 21st century.
Those goals have secured 12 points for Atleti this season – more than any other player in the league.
Simeone knew exactly what he was getting when he signed Suarez from Barcelona ahead of the 2020-21 season and the Atleti boss says his side tries to play to the Uruguay international’s strengths.
“It [Suarez’s record] speaks for itself,” he added. “He always scored goals, it’s not just now that he does.
“We try to enhance everything he brought and bring him closer to the area. Let’s all hope we continue growing as a team.”