MADRID (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said on Saturday he needs to control his temper during games and avoid losing his cool on the touchline like he did on Thursday against Arsenal which saw him being sent off and risking a lengthy touchline ban.
The Argentine was dismissed early in the 1-1 draw in the Europa League semi-final, first leg at The Emirates Stadium for repeatedly shouting at French referee Clement Turpin and pushing the fourth official after Arsenal’s Hector Bellerin was not booked for a foul on Atletico midfielder Koke.
Simeone’s temper had already been tested minutes earlier when Atletico defender Sime Vrsjalko was sent off for two bookings in quick succession.
“I don’t feel good about (my) sending off although I understand that these things can happen given the speed at which you experience everything that happens on the pitch,” Simeone told a news conference ahead of Sunday’s Liga game at Alaves.
“I know I have to improve in this aspect. Anything I can say now cannot serve as a justification.”
Simeone will be suspended from the touchline for Thursday’s return leg against Arsenal at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium and could be banned for a further four games if UEFA decide to charge him for insulting a match official and improper conduct.
European soccer’s governing body will make a decision on May 4 and if they give Simeone the maximum punishment he will be banned from the sidelines during the Europa League final in Lyon if Atletico can get past Arsenal in the second leg.
Simeone has lost his temper on the European stage before, famously charging onto the pitch to berate Real Madrid defender Raphael Varane towards the end of the 2014 Champions League final which Atletico lost 4-1 to Madrid after extra-time.
Simeone have left talisman Antoine Griezmann, Saul Niguez, goalkeeper Jan Oblak and defender Jose Gimenez out of the squad for the trip to Alaves, although he said striker Diego Costa would start against the Basque side to gain match fitness after being out for two weeks with a muscle problem.
Atletico are second in La Liga on 72 points, 11 adrift of runaway leaders Barcelona, who will seal the title if Atletico fail to beat Alaves and Real Madrid do not win against Leganes on Saturday.
Even if both sides win their games, Barca would only need a point against Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday to clinch a 25th league crown.
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Ken Ferris