Atletico Madrid v Chelsea: Diego Simeone is Atletico's own Special One, says Tiago ahead of Champions League meeting

Midfielder sees many similarities between his former coach and his current one but aims to deal Mourinho another semi-final blow, he tells Pete Jenson in Madrid

Madrid

Diego Simeone has sounded a lot like Jose Mourinho at times over the last two and a half years of success with Atletico Madrid. “I like football that has substance, not teams that have never-ending possession with people asking, ‘when is this attack going to end?’” is a statement that might have been uttered by either coach.

“We want to be a nuisance for other sides, unbearable to play against,” is another.

The two managers have much in common and no one knows that better than Atletico midfielder Tiago, who played for Chelsea in the 2004-05 season and will face them tomorrow night when the clubs meet in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final here in Madrid.

FOLLOW OUR LIVE BLOG OF THE MATCH HERE

“We are comfortable when the other team has the ball,” Tiago said at Vicente Calderon stadium yesterday after his team-mate Gabi had joked that when his side win possession tomorrow night they will just gift it back to Chelsea, such is both teams’ preference for counter-attacking football.

Tiago knows the likenesses between the two coaches goes beyond their styles of play. “In terms of their winning mentality and the way it comes through in the work they do every day, they are not just similar, they are identical,” he says. “Simeone’s mere presence on the touchline is enough to lift us. He lives every minute of the game and the energy he transmits strengthens us.

“Mourinho does the same but in a different way. He motivates you through the week building up to the game. It’s perhaps more of a mental thing with him because he gets inside your head.”

After Tiago left Mourinho and Chelsea he joined Lyon, where he won two Ligue 1 titles, but he had lost his way at Atletico until Simeone turned up in December 2011.

“Everyone wanted to get rid of Tiago; Arda Turan didn’t realise he was allowed to run backwards as well as forward; Juanfran wasn’t a fixture at full-back; Miranda wasn’t in the team; Diego Godin wasn’t what he is now; and Felipe Luis did not play,” Simeone says of the disaffected squad he inherited. All six of those players will be part of his starting XI tomorrow night. He has turned their careers around in the process of waking Atletico from its slumber.

He disagrees with Tiago that the key is motivation. “Motivation is making them have the will to win but top players already have that,” he says. “What you need to give them is the instructions that they can use out on the pitch that will help them win.”

The fostering of a togetherness that stays strong through the course of a season is also emphasised.

After Atletico’s Champions League quarter-final triumph against Barcelona, Simeone remarked: “One of the things that had most impact on me was the way the players who weren’t involved directly in the match lived and breathed the game. It is so important and you can’t explain it to people outside of the game. When we lose that togetherness we will lose 40 per cent of what we are.”

Tiago struggles to understand why Mourinho’s ability to bond a squad appeared to fail him in his last season at Real Madrid. “Creating unity is his strength,” he says. “It’s precisely the fact that he has a group of players that will go to the ends of the earth for him that helps sets him apart.”

The ability to sow the seeds of doubt in the opposition has also been key to Mourinho’s success and the uncertainty surrounding Atletico goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois’s participation could easily have played in Chelsea’s favour before tomorrow’s first leg.

Tiago rates Courtois highly enough to understand Mourinho’s position perfectly. “He’s the best in the world at the moment as far as I’m concerned,” he says of the 21-year-old Belgium international. “He transmits an incredible sense of security to the team. He’s just a kid but you look at him filling the goal and it just puts you at ease. You know he is going to come for all the long balls and he wins points for us with his saves. He always makes that decisive stop that turns a game.

“We all know Mourinho and we all know that if it is necessary to crank up the pressure before a game in order to win it then he will do that. He just wants to win. He knows that Courtois is very important for us and he wants to weaken us, as any opposing manager would.”

Not that Tiago believes the spotlight will have any adverse effect. “Courtois is mature enough not to be affected by the situation. He knows all the attention will be on him but he responds very well to pressure,” he says.

“It would have been very cruel for him not to be able to play this game. For the good of football we all want [Petr] Cech in one goal and Courtois in the other – they are two brilliant goalkeepers and at this stage of the Champions League you want the best players out on the pitch.”

Mourinho may not share that view, especially as with two exceptions semi-finals have been unkind to him, going back as far as 2005 when Tiago was on the pitch as Liverpool reached the final at Chelsea’s expense with a controversial Luis Garcia goal. He has also lost his last three semi-finals.

“Let’s hope we make it four,” Tiago says.

Suggested Topics
News
Susan Sarandon described David Bowie as
peopleSusan Sarandon reveals more on her David Bowie romance
Sport
Arsenal supporters gather for a recent ‘fan party’ in New Jersey
football
Sport
sportDidier Drogba returns to Chelsea on one-year deal
Arts and Entertainment
The Secret Cinema performance of Back to the Future has been cancelled again
film
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Life and Style
Balmain's autumn/winter 2014 campaign, shot by Mario Sorrenti and featuring Binx Walton, Cara Delevingne, Jourdan Dunn, Ysaunny Brito, Issa Lish and Kayla Scott
fashionHow Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain
News
people
Arts and Entertainment
Christian Grey cradles Ana in the Fifty Shades of Grey film
filmFifty Shades of Grey trailer provokes moral outrage in US
News
BBC broadcaster and presenter Evan Davis, who will be taking over from Jeremy Paxman on Newsnight
peopleForget Paxman - what will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Life and Style
fashionCustomer complained about the visibly protruding ribs
Voices
The new dawn heralded by George Osborne has yet to rise
voicesJames Moore: As the Tories rub their hands together, the average voter will be asking why they're not getting a piece of the action
Sport
Dejan Lovren celebrates scoring for Southampton although the goal was later credited to Adam Lallana
sport
News
newsComedy club forced to apologise as maggots eating a dead pigeon fall out of air-conditioning
Arts and Entertainment
Jo Brand says she's mellowed a lot
tvJo Brand says shows encourage people to laugh at the vulnerable
Life and Style
People may feel that they're procrastinating by watching TV in the evening
life
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Evan Davis: The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing to take over at Newsnight

The BBC’s wolf in sheep’s clothing

What will Evan Davis be like on Newsnight?
Finding the names for America’s shame: What happens to the immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert?

Finding the names for America’s shame

The immigrants crossing the US-Mexico border without documents who never make it past the Arizona desert
Inside a church for Born Again Christians: Speaking to God in a Manchester multiplex

Inside a church for Born Again Christians

As Britain's Anglican church struggles to establish its modern identity, one branch of Christianity is booming
Rihanna, Kim Kardashian and me: How Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Olivier Rousteing is revitalising the house of Balmain

Parisian couturier Pierre Balmain made his name dressing the mid-century jet set. Today, Olivier Rousteing – heir to the house Pierre built – is celebrating their 21st-century equivalents. The result? Nothing short of Balmania
Cancer, cardiac arrest, HIV and homelessness - and he's only 39

Incredible survival story of David Tovey

Tovey went from cooking for the Queen to rifling through bins for his supper. His is a startling story of endurance against the odds – and of a social safety net failing at every turn
Backhanders, bribery and abuses of power have soared in China as economy surges

Bribery and abuses of power soar in China

The bribery is fuelled by the surge in China's economy but the rules of corruption are subtle and unspoken, finds Evan Osnos, as he learns the dark arts from a master
Commonwealth Games 2014: Highland terriers stole the show at the opening ceremony

Highland terriers steal the show at opening ceremony

Gillian Orr explores why a dog loved by film stars and presidents is finally having its day
German art world rocked as artists use renowned fat sculpture to distil schnapps

Brewing the fat from artwork angers widow of sculptor

Part of Joseph Beuys' 1982 sculpture 'Fettecke' used to distil schnapps
BBC's The Secret History of Our Streets reveals a fascinating window into Britain's past

BBC takes viewers back down memory lane

The Secret History of Our Streets, which returns with three films looking at Scottish streets, is the inverse of Benefits Street - delivering warmth instead of cynicism
Joe, film review: Nicolas Cage delivers an astonishing performance in low budget drama

Nicolas Cage shines in low-budget drama Joe

Cage plays an ex-con in David Gordon Green's independent drama, which has been adapted from a novel by Larry Brown
How to make your own gourmet ice lollies, granitas, slushy cocktails and frozen yoghurt

Make your own ice lollies and frozen yoghurt

Think outside the cool box for this summer's tempting frozen treats
Ford Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time, with sales topping 4.1 million since 1976

Fiesta is UK's most popular car of all-time

Sales have topped 4.1 million since 1976. To celebrate this milestone, four Independent writers recall their Fiestas with pride
10 best reed diffusers

Heaven scent: 10 best reed diffusers

Keep your rooms smelling summery and fresh with one of these subtle but distinctive home fragrances that’ll last you months
Commonwealth Games 2014: Female boxers set to compete for first time

Female boxers set to compete at Commonwealth Games for first time

There’s no favourites and with no headguards anything could happen
Five things we’ve learned so far about Manchester United under Louis van Gaal

Five things we’ve learned so far about United under Van Gaal

It’s impossible to avoid the impression that the Dutch manager is playing to the gallery a little