MADRID – Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said he was not overly concerned by the high number of positive Covid-19 cases the squad is experiencing after his side were held to a 2-2 draw by Celta Vigo on Monday while missing six players with infections.
The Liga leaders looked ruffled in the first half as Celta took an early lead through Santi Mina but Atletico striker Luis Suarez scored either side of halftime, only for Facundo Ferreyra to snatch a draw for the visitors with an 89th minute strike.
“These are very difficult times for the world and for society and, while we try to look after ourselves, contagion is not just in Atletico it's in society,” Simeone told reporters after his team's eight-game winning run was halted.
“I don't just look at what is happening at Atletico, I look at what is happening in society, because Atletico is part of society.”
Atleti have had 15 players test positive for the virus since the pandemic wreaked havoc on global sport last March. Simeone missed part of the pre-season campaign after being infected.
Midfielders Thomas Lemar and Hector Herrera tested positive on the morning of the game, leading to the team being forced to cancel their pre-match warm up at the training ground and hold their usual meeting to prepare the game on a video call.
Record signing Joao Felix and latest arrival Moussa Dembele were among those missing after testing positive for the virus last week, adding to the absences of Mario Hermoso and Yannick Carrasco, who were infected at the end of January.
“You'll have to ask the players whether it affected them or not but we prepared the game with a lot of enthusiasm and excitement,” Simeone said.
“We couldn't have our team meeting so we prepared the game via a Zoom call and met up for the game less than two hours before, but I saw a lot of positive things on the pitch.
“We had a great reaction in the second half after not being able to dominate play in the first and the players showed real determination to compete.”
The draw meant Atletico could only increase their lead above title rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid to eight points rather than 10 although they have a game in hand.