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Fledgling coach Thierry Henry admitted he could learn a lot from Atletico Madrid’s seasoned manager Diego Simeone as he marvelled at the Argentine’s boundless energy during his AS Monaco side’s 2-0 defeat to the Spaniards on Wednesday.
Goals from Koke and Antoine Griezmann clinched Atletico’s place in the last 16 of the Champions League and ensured struggling Monaco will finish bottom of Group A, ending their slim hopes of qualifying for the Europa League.
But Arsenal and France great Henry, whose team have won just once and lost five of their eight games since he took up his first managerial job after a spell as assistant coach of Belgium, was most in awe of Simeone’s touchline antics.
“I have a lot to learn from Simeone. Look how he always acts. His team were winning 2-0 and he never left his players alone. He kept on shouting at them to stay focussed and run back,” Henry told a post-match news conference.
“That was why we saw Griezmann stop counterattacks on the right wing and through the middle. That intensity which he brings to the team, which he used to have as a player, is incredible.”
While Henry now can focus on trying to steer struggling Monaco, who are second-bottom of Ligue 1, to safety, Simeone is setting his sights on maintaining Atletico’s push for the La Liga title and plotting a possible path to the Champions League final, which will be held at their shiny Wanda Metropolitano stadium next June.
And after seeing Simeone and his tireless team up close, Henry believes Atletico are more than capable of winning Europe’s elite competition for the first time after losing two finals in agonising circumstances to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016.
“He is so passionate about football, he seems like he is still a player. For me Simeone is a reference point for all coaches,” Henry added.
Villa draw 5-5 with Forest in remarkable Championship clash
There were 10 goals and a red card as Aston Villa drew 5-5 at home to Nottingham Forest on Wednesday in England’s second tier Championship.
Tammy Abraham scored four goals for Villa, who trailed 2-0 and 3-2 in a remarkable first half that ended 3-3.
Lewis Grabban and Joao Carvalho put Forest two goals ahead before Abraham dragged the hosts back into the match, levelling the scores at 2-2 and then 3-3 after Matthew Cash put Forest back in front.
Joe Lolley’s long-range effort restored Forest’s lead shortly after the break but they were soon down to 10 men when Tobias Figueiredo was shown a red card.
Abraham capitalised three minutes later, heading in from Jack Grealish’s free kick to make it 4-4.
Villa took the lead for the first time through Anwar El Ghazi but Grabban’s near-post finish with eight minutes remaining earned Forest a point.
Both clubs were European champions in the early 1980s but Forest are now sixth in the Championship on 31 points, two places and three points above Villa.
Sarri rules out Kante switch to Chelsea central midfield
Chelsea midfielder N’Golo Kante will not be moved back to his preferred position in central midfield as the role is more suited to technical players such as Jorginho and Cesc Fabregas, according to manager Maurizio Sarri.
Kante emerged as a leading deep-lying midfielder in recent seasons, winning back-to-back Premier League titles with Leicester City and Chelsea as well as helping France claim the World Cup, but Sarri said he had to adapt to an advanced role.
“I want to play a central midfielder who is a very technical player, so for me, it’s Jorginho or Fabregas. I don’t want Kante in this position,” Sarri told reporters ahead of Thursday’s Europa League clash with Greek side PAOK Salonika.
Chelsea head into the contest on the back of a 3-1 league defeat by Tottenham Hotspur, their first loss of the season, where Kante and Jorginho struggled to influence the game.