Koke backs Atletico Madrid to bounce back from Real Madrid defeat

Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke says his side must move on now and look forward, after a 3-0 La Liga derby defeat against Real Madrid, which was controversial for him personally and difficult for the team in general.

After Koke's role in a new more attacking Atletico approach had been a big pregame subject of debate, the Spain international was to the fore for the wrong reasons as Madrid eased to victory thanks to a complete team performance and Cristiano Ronaldo's hat trick.

Ronaldo and Koke clashed on the pitch early in the second half with the score at 1-0, with both players booked by referee David Fernandez Borbalan after an incident which saw hands raised on each side but no blows landed. Reports in Spain have claimed the Rojiblanco playmaker insulted the Portugal captain, although there has been no confirmation of what exactly was said.

More clear was a discussion between Koke and Atletico coach Diego Simeone late on with the game already decided, in which frustrated words were exchanged about how things had gone.

Speaking later in the mixed zone, Koke admitted it had been a bad night for Atletico, but said that instead of going over what had happened they should look forward and move on.

"We shouldn't look back now, we must keep moving forward," Koke said. "We are very down, but we are sure we will rise back up as we have great players."

Nevertheless much of the analysis of what went wrong for Atletico centred on whether Simeone's side should return to the toughness and solidity which has been the side's outstanding feature during their recent seasons of success.

Writing in AS, former Atletico striker turned pundit Kiko Narvaez said that the problem was not just about one player, and backed his former teammate Simeone to go back to basics and put things right again.

"I don't believe it is just about Koke's position," Kiko said. "It is more a collective dip. Atletico need to get their big players back to their best. I have no doubt they will come back and be fighting for all the trophies until the end of the season. Simeone is addicted to challenges. He now must recover the sense of security within his team, and get back on the path of reliability and solidity."