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Simeone's Atlético faith rewarded

Published: Sunday 18 May 2014, 0.38CET
Despite guiding Club Atlético de Madrid to a tenth Liga title, coach Diego Simeone warned his players to remain focused with a UEFA Champions League final still to come.
by Paul Bryan
from Madrid
Simeone's Atlético faith rewarded
Simeone becomes a Liga winner as a player and coach with Atlético ©Getty Images
Published: Sunday 18 May 2014, 0.38CET

Simeone's Atlético faith rewarded

Despite guiding Club Atlético de Madrid to a tenth Liga title, coach Diego Simeone warned his players to remain focused with a UEFA Champions League final still to come.

Coach Diego Simeone was celebrating a "day that will go down as one of the most important in this team's history" after Club Atlético de Madrid were crowned 2013/14 Liga champions. 

After Los Rojiblancos emerged from a tense and entertaining last game of the season with a 1-1 draw against FC Barcelona, Simeone said he never doubted his side's resolve at the Camp Nou. Trailing to Alexis Sánchez's 33rd-minute opener, Atlético rallied and reestablished their status as Liga leaders thanks to Diego Godín's headed equaliser four minutes into the second half. The UEFA Champions League finalists then thwarted Barça's late surge to end the campaign as domestic champions.

Simeone evoked the spirit of one of his predecessors in the Atlético post, saying: "Luis Aragonés was surely defending with us in that second half. We fought and competed with humility, against everything. We knew that if we managed to [equalise] it would be an uphill task for [Barcelona]. We knew we would score. The best thing you can try to impart to the group – who were doing things well in the first half – is serenity."

Atlético's title win breaks the Barcelona/Real Madrid CF domestic duopoly that has lasted since Valencia CF's championship triumph in 2004. It is also the fourth trophy the club has won under Simeone, adding to their UEFA Europa League, UEFA Super Cup and Copa del Rey successes since he took over in December 2011. "Today will go down as one of the most important in this team's history," said the coach, a double winner with Atlético in 1996 as a player. "To leave Barcelona as champions, there is only happiness. I'm now keen to go back and see the city of Madrid in red and white."

Applauded by both players and fans at the home of Barcelona following their achievement, Simeone offered words of praise to the 2012/13 champions, who he said had "demonstrated how great a club they are." "The game had barely finished when [Barça's players and staff] were coming to congratulate us. These are among the greatest things that football can give you."

Godín was just as ebullient, saying that, "football delivered justice," after Atlético had, "competed so hard all year and put in an incredible amount of work." "Standing up to the challenges over 38 games – and keeping up with Real Madrid and Barcelona – was not easy," the Uruguayan explained.

Although the title celebrations were expected to last well into the evening, Simeone warned his players not to get carried away, with another important task on the horizon; next weekend's UEFA Champions League final against Madrid in Lisbon. "We might have made history today," he said, "but we have another game to play next Saturday."

Last updated: 19/06/14 9.48CET

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