Koke: Atletico are not a violent team

The midfielder has rubbished criticism of the Rojiblancos’ playing style, adding that the Champions League is the Spanish champions’ main goal this term

Koke has laughed off accusations that Atletico Madrid are a “violent” team, arguing that they never would have won La Liga last season if they were incapable of playing good football.

Atleti were eliminated from the Copa del Rey by Barcelona at the end of last month, losing the second leg at home 3-2 and ending the match with nine players after red cards for Gabi and Mario Suarez.

The Rojiblancos were slated for their approach to the game and were also criticised for the way in which they defeated city rivals Real in the prevous round but, ahead of Saturday’s Madrid derby, Koke rubbished the notion that Diego Simeone’s side are overly aggressive.

“It bothers us when people say we’re violent. What, because we play the game with intensity?” he told Marca. “It makes us laugh too. No one is going to change us. We can play good football too.

“We couldn’t have won the La Liga title or reached the Champions League final last season if all we did was kick teams off the park. You have to be able to play.”

Atletico will host Real on Saturday looking to stretch their unbeaten run against Carlo Ancelotti’s men to six matches (three wins and two draws so far since the Champions League final).

It is an impressive turnaround for the Rojiblancos, with Atleti having gone 25 games without a win against Real from 2000 to 2013, although Koke played down the significance of the streak.

“They’re a great team. These runs come and go,” the 23-year-old said. “They had an amazing streak against us, we broke it and now we have one going. Here’s hoping we can prolong it.”

If Atletico defeat their local rivals on Saturday, they will move within four points of Real at the top of La Liga’s standings but Koke insists the Champions League is their priority after losing the final to Ancelotti’s team last season.

“The club has never won it and we’d love to put that right. It would be this group’s crowning glory,” he added.

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