Atletico hero praises champions' attitude after downing Cadiz, Simeone wants improvement

By Sports Desk March 11, 2022

Rodrigo de Paul praised Atletico Madrid's attitude and desire after his second-half strike secured a 2-1 win over Cadiz in LaLiga.

Atletico took the lead within two minutes when in-form forward Joao Felix capitalised on a goalkeeping error to score, registering his sixth goal involvement in six league games.

Yet Cadiz drew level when Alvaro Negredo netted a superb header just before half-time.

Despite Diego Simeone's men registering only six shots to Cadiz's 14 throughout the contest, as well as tallying a mere 0.60 expected goals (xG), De Paul swept home his first LaLiga goal after 68 minutes to send last season's champions third in the table.

Javi Serrano received the fastest red card issued to a LaLiga substitute this season, being dismissed four minutes and 49 seconds after entering the fray late on, but Atletico held out for a crucial victory, and De Paul was delighted with the team's character on a difficult evening.

"We pulled it off," the Argentina midfielder told LaLiga TV. "We had the character to do it. We leave happy and wanting to continue improving.

"I don't know if we relaxed with the 1-0. The game took on a different dynamic, Cadiz had to come looking for us. We were well placed but we failed in our passes. 

"The important thing is the attitude, the desire and that is the fourth victory in a row.

"Luckily the goal came. It's nice to score when you help the team."

The Spanish champions have lost on their last two away trips to face English sides in the Champions League, at Chelsea in 2020-21 and Liverpool this season without scoring a goal in either, but De Paul hoped the team's strong domestic form would serve them well at Old Trafford.

"That confidence has to serve us for the match in Manchester," he said. "Hopefully we can have a great match there."

Atletico boss Simeone, meanwhile, was not happy with his side's limp performance, but emphasised the importance of the result as Atletico battle for a top-four finish and a return to the Champions League next season.

"Cadiz controlled the game, not having clear scoring situations, but neither did we, neither pressing, nor winning the second ball, nor making quick transitions", Simeone said.

"[It was] a flat, flat, slow game, without intensity, without recovery, without quick transitions, without winning the second ball. [It was] a little better in the second half, but we need to get back to the situations we've been showing in these last few games.

"In this final stretch of the championship, if I always say that the most important thing is to win, [it is] much more so now."

Atletico now possess a five-point cushion over fifth-placed Real Betis in LaLiga, although Betis possess a game in hand.

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