Simeone: I knew I was coming back to Atletico Madrid

The former Argentina international claimed a return to the club he represented as a player was destined to be, before urging his team to continue their good form in the league
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has cited the work he did in preparation for his return to the capital outfit's dugout, as they ready themselves for Espanyol's challenge on Sunday.

The 42-year-old made almost 100 appearances for los Rojiblancos between 1994 and 1997, and enjoyed immediate success upon his appointment as their trainer, sweeping to Europa League and European Super Cup triumphs in quick succession.

"I knew I was coming back here, so I dedicated myself entirely to preparing for it," the ex-River Plate and Catania coach noted to Spanish outlet El Pais Semanal. "I knew it would be difficult, but I wanted the challenge.

"I am an anxious and self-critical coach who tries to listen and understand a problem before solving it. Before, I was a different person, more impulsive [as a player]."

The Vicente Calderon outfit have performed above expectations by surging to second in the Primera Division, and Cholo has called for his team to further consolidate their position against Espanyol.

"We must give the league the respect it deserves," he continued. "Espanyol have grown a lot since Javier Aguirre arrived.

"He has lent the team character and increased the individuals' performance levels. They will be dangerous and we have to remain focussed."

Espanyol sit 12th in the table after embarking on a six-game unbeaten run.