Diego Simeone has said Atletico Madrid need hard work to reap the benefits of a busy summer in the transfer market as they prepare for Wednesday’s UEFA Supercup clash with rivals Real.
Europa League winners Atletico have spent more than €100 million in the summer window, with ex-Monaco winger Thomas Lemar and former Villarreal midfielder Rodrigo in line to start in Estonia.
Simeone, asked whether his side and Real — who have sold biggest star Cristiano Ronaldo to Juventus — were closer than ever, told his prematch news conference: “Obviously our budgets are not the same, but in motivation and spirit we never feel anybody can beat us. In this game, we will try and do everything we can.
“Important players want to come to Atletico Madrid, and our youngsters all want to stay and keep growing with the club.
“But the arrival of good individuals does not guarantee a better team. Rodrigo, Lemar, [Nikola] Kalinic and Gelson [Martins] are bringing their talent, but lots of hard work is needed if we are all to improve together.”
Simeone said he expected Real, coached by ex-Spain boss Julen Lopetegui, to set up differently to the way they did under former boss Zinedine Zidane.
“Maybe their last few games are a reference for what might happen tomorrow,” he added. “They press a lot after losing the ball, looking to position themselves in the opposition half.
“That is what Lopetegui did as Spain national coach, and I imagine he will follow that same line.”
France international Antoine Griezmann has played only 30 minutes of preseason since returning from winning the World Cup with his country, but could be in the team.
“It has been difficult to prepare this summer, but we had the joy of Atletico Madrid players in the World Cup final,” Simeone said.
“Griezmann and Lucas [Hernandez] were the last to arrive, but they are in good spirits and want to keep winning. All the players here are available to play.”
Simeone praised France’s performances and said he felt their approach had been reminiscent of his own team.
“Football is marvellous as nobody has one truth — you can win in different ways,” he said. “We saw that again with France winning at the World Cup, with some characteristics similar to Atletico.”
Asked whether Griezmann was in contention for the Ballon d’Or, the coach said he believed he was “in a very good position” to win it.