Diego Simeone urged Atletico Madrid to return after the World Cup with the intention of turning around their faltering season following another defeat.
Atletico were beaten 1-0 away to Mallorca on Wednesday, stretching their winless run to five matches across all competitions – they have never endured a worse streak during Simeone’s spell in charge.
Up next is a tussle with minnows Almazan in the Copa del Rey on Saturday, but otherwise Atletico are now not due to play competitively again until after the World Cup.
Wednesday’s defeat leaves Atletico sixth in LaLiga, although a big win for Rayo Vallecano against Celta Vigo on Thursday could push Simeone’s men down a place.
Either way, the first half of the season has not gone to plan for Atletico, who will be without knockout European football in the new year for the first time since 2010-11.
“The pause of the championship will generate peace of mind to work, and to fully recover [injured players], whom we obviously need,” Simeone told DAZN.
“I hope that after the World Cup they come back with the idea of reversing this difficult situation.”
5 –has gone five games in a row without a win in all competitions (D2 L3), matching its worst streak without a win with Diego Pablo Simeone as coach, suffered twice before: August 2014 (D3 L2) and February 2020 (D2 L3).
— OptaJose (@OptaJose)
Despite the obvious issues for Atletico, Simeone actually seemed somewhat philosophical about their situation and Wednesday’s performance.
While concerns remain, Simeone also saw elements that he liked, especially the team’s attitude towards the end.
“To say that we have lacked forcefulness in all the games is a very simple excuse. We’re making a lot of defensive mistakes that make games uphill battles for us, having to go looking to change the result and that creates complications for us,” he later said in his post-match press conference.
“It’s clear that little happened in the game in the first half. We couldn’t solve a very simple plan in the best way and the game was played where [Mallorca] feel most comfortable.
“Defensively, [Mallorca’s] work was very comfortable. In the first half we were looking for balls with more directness in order to be closer to the goal.
“Our changes gave us more vitality, freshness, a more dynamic way of approaching the game with speed on the flanks with [Antoine] Griezmann, [Thomas] Lemar’s [ability to] break [the lines], and the appearance of [Sergio] Reguilon, who can give important things. But it was not enough.
“Reality makes us leave with a defeat that hurts and that obviously makes us have to work hard in the time we are going to have, because when LaLiga returns there will be complicated games.
“[But] the team never gave up, I never saw a team that didn’t want to go for the game, and that gives me strength.”