With his team one game away from surpassing a long-standing milestone, Club Atlético de Madrid coach Diego Simeone insists he is "not stopping to look over statistics" as the UEFA Europa League holders prepare to host A. Académica de Coimbra.
A last-minute winner from the in-form Falcao – the Colombia forward's first professional goal from a free-kick and his 16th strike in ten games for club and country this term – helped the Rojiblancos to a 1-0 triumph at Real Sociedad de Fútbol on Sunday and kept Simeone's side level on points with FC Barcelona at the top of Liga. The result also brought the Colchoneros to within one match of beating a club-record 20-game unbeaten run set in 1991.
"It's logical that others might want to check over our stats but our goal is to continue achieving our targets for the campaign," the 42-year-old explained ahead of the UEFA Europa League Group B leaders' encounter with Pedro Emanuel's Portuguese visitors. "
Everything we have done up until now is in the past – it's what is to come that's important."
As coach, Simeone has been part of Atlético's record 15-match winning streak in Europe, a sequence that started with a 4-0 home victory over Udinese Calcio on 3 November 2011 – and one that has seen the team from the banks of the river Manzanares lift the UEFA Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup. Yet it was as a 25-year-old defensive midfielder that he earned hero status at the Estadio Vicente Calderón as member of the 1995/96 Liga and Copa del Rey winning side.
After eight top-flight fixtures of that campaign, Radomir Antić's team were Liga leaders on 22 points, a tally Atlético have failed to match until right now. Yet, despite the positive early indications, the former Sevilla FC, S.S. Lazio and FC Internazionale Milano man underlines that neither he nor his charges are getting carried away.
"If people outside are feeling good vibrations, that's great – it's healthy and positive," the Argentinian said. "We feel happy if our fans are happy. We aren't stopping to look over statistics, though. Our reality is the day-to-day. We want to be competitive and to aspire to get better game-by-game, and we're not budging from that way of thinking."
On his unveiling as Gregorio Manzano's successor last December, Simeone had said he wanted to see "a strong Atlético, a battling team who counterattack at pace", adding: "That's what Atlético were always defined by – it's our history."
Now, having overseen 29 victories in his first 42 games in charge, Simeone sends his side out against Académica with the simple idea of winning three more points. "We can wish for as many things as we like," he said. "The bottom line is the next game."
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