Diego Simeone credits Fernando Torres for improving Atletico Madrid’s attack

Diego Simeone has heaped praise on Fernando Torres by saying the striker’s presence has improved the performances of forwards Antoine Griezmann and Mario Mandzukic.

Torres arrived in January and quickly settled back into his boyhood club, scoring a brace at the Santiago Bernabeu which helped knock Real Madrid out of the Copa del Rey.

While Simeone’s attempt at starting all three forwards against Celta Vigo backfired a few weeks ago, the Argentine boss believes his team has benefited from the arrival of the 30-year-old striker.

“The arrival of Torres has benefited Griezmann and Mandzukic,” Simeone said during his pre-match press conference today. “From December to now they have grown a lot.”

“Fernando has always shown what he is capable of, and we hope that the characteristics he has [Griezmann and Mandzukic] can exploit…his speed, authority and eye for goal.”

Atletico Madrid came under criticism after a disappointing 1-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen in the Champions League during the mid-week. Diego Godin and Tiago will both miss the return leg at the Vicente Calderon due to yellow card accumulations and a red card, respectively.

But Simeone has insisted he pays no attention to outside opinions of his team, or his management style.

“I don’t watch or listen to the sports programs,” the Argentine admitted. “I try to shut myself off whether we win or lose.”

“There are always extreme opinions. It’s normal that after a defeat or a bad game we get torn apart. We have earned the position that every loss or performance is strongly criticized.”

Instead of harping on recent failures, Simeone has kept his team focused on the task at hand, which is beating top four challengers Sevilla on Sunday.

“We need to get back to playing the way that we feel comfortable doing,” Simeone added. “Competing in the midfield, pressuring in the opposition half and robbing the ball to break quickly.”

“We’re playing a side that is in good form and has been stable for a couple of years now. Without doubt this is a very important match in terms of where the league is.”

Fans will be hoping to have influential midfielder Koke back in the match day squad against Sevilla. The Spain international has been sidelined since the Madrid derby after damaging his hamstring early in the contest.

After returning to training this week, Simeone expects Koke to be in the squad on Sunday and hinted the midfielder could be included in his starting eleven.

“We need Koke, he’s a different sort of player,” the manager concluded. “He reads the game very well and we’re evaluating whether he’ll play from the start, which is probable.”

Programming note: Sevilla vs. Atletico Madrid will be shown LIVE on Sunday starting at 12:55pm EST on beINSPORTS en español (to be joined LIVE at 1:30pm EST on beINSPORT) and DishWorld.

 

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