Diego Simeone has demanded his players give their all to get Atletico Madrid’s season back on track but admitted they are “competing well and have the desire” after being knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Real Sociedad on Wednesday.
Goals in each half from Adnan Januzaj and Alexander Sorloth were enough to consign the Rojiblancos to a 2-0 defeat at Reale Arena, their seventh loss in their last 12 games in all competitions.
It means that it has been four seasons since Atletico reached the quarter-finals of the Copa dey Rey, having not done so since the 2017-18 campaign.
It is the second time in six days that Atletico have been eliminated from a cup competition, having lost 2-1 to Athletic Bilbao in the semi-final of the Supercopa de Espana last week in Saudi Arabia.
Speaking after the game in San Sebastian, Simeone urged his players to rescue their season. They are due to play Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League, and sit in fourth place in LaLiga, though a sizeable 16 points behind leaders Real Madrid.
“We must put our heart, our head, and our shoulders in the face of what is happening to us,” he insisted. “We need to contribute together starting with the game on Saturday [at home to Valencia].
“It’s a shame because the team is competing well and has the desire to get out of this uncomfortable situation.
36 – @oblakjan has conceded 36 goals in all competitions with @atletienglish this season (29 games), same as in the whole last campaign (36 goals conceded in 46 matches). Crisis. pic.twitter.com/7ywcL8cM9x
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) January 19, 2022
“We’re in a phase wherein, like many say, the dynamic is not good. We need to think about the positives. I’m optimistic and I believe in my players.
“Football is decisive in both penalty boxes and the more decisive you are, the closer you get to winning. Hopefully, we can again find the clean sheets that were once criticised but that now hold more weight. With stability, everything else becomes easier.
“It’s a problem of football, of life. Every day is not the same. Last season was magnificent and this one is being very difficult.
“The opportunities are there, we have the league and the Champions League. I will not stay still, that’s for sure.”
Simeone was also asked about an incident prior to the game at Reale Arena when La Real fans were seen to throw objects at the Atletico bus as it pulled towards the stadium.
“We were on a path surrounded by Real Sociedad fans, who I understand are always there, but they were protected by the people who should have dealt with the situation. Suddenly, there was no protection and everyone saw that.”