LaLiga Spoke to MARCA about refereeing
Alvaro Morata has called for Atletico Madrid to be considered as one of the biggest clubs in world football.
The striker believes that Los Rojiblancos are treated differently to the likes of Real Madrid and Barcelona when it comes to refereeing and punishments.
He was sent off against Mallorca for confronting Salva Sevilla and spoke to MARCA about that, working with Diego Simeone and Diego Costa.
It’s not even been a full year since your arrival at Atletico last January. How do you see it?
Very positively. It wasn’t easy to come at the start. I think the club have made it very easy for me. My teammates and the fans as well. I’m sure that Atletico is the best thing that could’ve happened. It’s different. Last year I arrived at a complete group, with great people, great players. Now we’re creating a new group, with new players. We’re creating a family bit by bit, which is what Atletico is all about. I think that we can only get better.
Are Atletico ready to win titles or do you need longer for the new players to settle in?
If only [we were ready] now. It’s what we’re training for every day, it’s what we follow the boss’s instructions for, who knows how to get the best out of us as a team. Sometimes you have to be lucky, to get as few injuries as possible… But we’re prepared, the fans didn’t really doubt the changes, it’s normal to have new players. But we’ve seen that we can compete against teams like Juventus. It’s only the start. We can only improve.
Is Atletico the perfect place to settle down and spend a few seasons?
Let’s hope so and [that I can] be here for a long time. I would love to. You have to give it your all. The demands are very high and you have to prepare for what is coming.
‘The Champions League is an obsession,’ sing the Atleti fans. You know what it’s like to win it. Do you see this team winning the cup?
If only I had a [crystal] ball and I could see it. The fans want to win it and we do too. It’s the pinnacle as a player. And it means more at Atletico, where we know what it means for the club and the fans. While we’re still improving and working like this, it’s a question of time. I don’t know about this season, next season or in the next five, but our time to win the Champions League will come.
Koke and Saul are captains and leaders in the team… but lots of people criticise them. Can you understand why two symbols of the club are whistled?
I think football is a sport of moments. In the end, we know who they are, how important they are for the team. Recently, I spoke to Saul, who is more of a friend than a teammate, that people see things from the outside that we don’t see.
Saul might have scored more goals and assists… but now he works harder than ever. He did a defensive job against Real Madrid like the best defenders do. In the end, the main thing is that they’re important for us and maybe the fans don’t bare that in mind. He’s among the elite with the goals he’s scored. It’s a question of time before he and everyone else gets back scoring goals.
Do you think Jan Oblak is one of the best goalkeepers in the world?
He’s the best goalkeeper [in the world]. It only took a week of training with him to see that. I’d played against him with Chelsea and he made a great save against me. I’ve been lucky enough to play with the best goalkeepers in history, not only in the world at the moment, and I think Oblak is the best in the world. I hope he gets the recognition.
How many times have you wanted to go back in time and stop what happened at Mallorca?
Well, I wouldn’t like to stop everything. I didn’t do anything serious, although I wouldn’t do it again. I didn’t insult anyone. The only thing I did was stand up for myself because I’m not a wimp. He came for me and he said things that aren’t nice. That’s it. I would like to apologise to my fans for letting the team go down to 10 men and not being able to player the next game.
I said sorry in the dressing room. They didn’t deserve that. But I’m calm. I’m not a person that looks for controversy. I’m polite to everyone. I made a mistake, but I didn’t do anything serious enough to get sent off. If it’s true that the first yellow was to shut me up at home and think that it’s stupid. But not everything in life is fair.
Do you think your punishment is excessive?
Not excessive. It’s only one game. The reality is that I prefer not to have let it happen. It’s not good to forget it all. I’m not going to return to the match. I can deal with it. I suffered a lot at home. It was a match that I had to play and win. It was one of the games of the season. I had to miss it for a useless thing. It’s about learning and moving on.
What did Diego Simeone say about your reaction?
El Cholo told me that everyone can get angry at times. That I should pay more attention to details. That it’s a shame that something so avoidable made me lose a match like that.
Seeing the lack of action in similar cases against Sergio Ramos and Luis Suarez, do you think there are different rules for Atletico?
I think that, in the end, not everyone is punished in the same way. Yes, it’s clear. You only have to watch the images and matches. I said it with Costa’s sanction, that it would’ve been difficult to see it [given against] other players in LaLiga. In my case, I’ve already said that I was mistaken. You have to consider Atletico as a big club. That they respect us, sometimes they don’t see us like other clubs.
Have you noticed that referees treat Atletico differently to the other teams you’ve played for in your career?
In the end, refereeing isn’t easy. Some things are difficult to see. It’s true that they give us punishments that they don’t give other teams. It shocks you. Diego Costa’s phrase at the Camp Nou was a phrase that is always said. He said it because he was angry. Eight matches is madness. Then other players say it and nothing happens.
How long is it until we see the Morata that Simeone signed?
I’ve had a start to the season that I didn’t hope for. I’ve missed lots of games in a row for the knee sprain. The game against Real Madrid was then for the suspension from the red card at Mallorca. Therefore, I enjoyed playing against Lokomotiv Moscow a lot. I hope not to get injured again and be on top [form]. I’m sure that I can play better than ever.
Do you think Atletico are relying a lot on the Costa-Morata partnership to be successful?
We hope so. We hope it’ll be a great season for us both. We will always need to score more goals. We’re in a good place in the Champions League and in LaLiga Santander after the first few games. It’s a question of time before we both score more goals.
The first time I went to the national team, I went to dinner with just him, side by side. I consider him a friend when we’ve gone through difficult times, like those that I had at Chelsea. I’ve not had a relationship with any other teammate that I have with Diego Costa. I know that we can contribute a lot and make us stronger.
How far can the Morata, Costa and Joao Felix trident go?
I don’t like speaking about the trident. There are lots of players that can play in these positions. It’s clear that we all want to play. The trident is like the one that Barcelona had with [Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Neymar]. We, at Atletico, are more team players and we mustn’t distract ourselves with tridents… We have a great team. It’s important that we do a good job and win the three points and fight for titles.
You’ve been working with him for 10 months now – what is El Cholo like?
I’m not going to find out anything new about Simeone now. I’m proud to work with him. He’s the boss and you have to follow him. He wants to win. He’s a guide and you have to follow him.
Have you been at any clubs where the coach’s figure is so important as Simeone’s is at Atletico?
There are clubs that have this figure, especially away from Spain. Here, in LaLiga, it’s difficult to stay at the same club for a long time. But it’s the philosophy of this club. He’s put [Atletico] in the elite and that’s incredible. It’s the start of great things that can happen to this Atletico.
What is your objective for this season?
I can’t have any other objective than winning important things. It’s why I’m here. It’s what we want. We’re going to give our all to try to achieve it. It’s what the fans have to think. That we’re a new group but we’re hungry to take on the world. We’re going to fight for everything.
Where do you see yourself in 20 years?
I’ve thought about this so many times. I have so many things to do that I don’t have time for at the moment. I would like to help people in my current position, show them that there’s life after football.