New Delhi, June 7: Atletico Madrid under Diego Simeone have developed from a middling team in La Liga to a major force in Europe. One of the characteristic features of their game under the former Argentina midfielder has been their dogged defence and goalkeeper Jan Oblak has been an instrumental part of this. Atletico finished the 2018/19 season second on the league table with the least goals conceded amongst any and Oblak finished top of the pile among goalkeepers yet again. Jan Oblak Signs New Contract with Atletico Madrid.
It is nothing new for the Slovenian though, and he has been rated the division's best goalkeeper for the past four seasons in a row. But the 26-year-old believes that he still has room for improvement.
"I think I can improve all aspects of my game still. I'm improving myself day by day but I'm still not at that level where you can't improve any more. You can always improve and I'm sure that I can still be much better," Oblak told IANS.
The Slovenian said that Atletico's record of keeping 20 clean sheets through the season is a team effort. "Strikers want to score, and goalkeepers want to keep a clean sheet. But it's not just me, the whole team wants to keep a clean sheet, and the whole team wants to score.
"It's important for all of us. If you keep 20 clean sheets it means you've not lost in 20 games. We can be proud of that because it's not easy. Last season we were great at that, picking up clean sheets. I really should thank my teammates for their help, I'm not alone out there and it's not just my work. It's a long season and we're up against a lot of very good teams in La Liga," he said. Atletico Madrid Sign Argentine Striker Nicolas Ibanez.
Atletico may have finished second in the 2018/19 season but were 11 points behind champions Barcelona. Oblak believes that winning more games away from home would go a long way in the bridging that gap.
"If we can do that we'll be fighting for the title, no doubt," he said. "In the end we ended up fighting for second place. It's difficult. There are moments in the season when you do well, others not so well. You just need to keep your eyes on the prize and up your game.
"We all want to push for something more, to win more titles. We started this season by winning the European Super Cup and we were very focused on the La Liga title but, in the end, we finished second. We should congratulate Barcelona for winning the title and now all we can do is wait for another opportunity next season." With the impending departure of defensive mainstay Diego Godin, Oblak has been named club captain for next season.
"It's a huge honour to be a captain for such a great club like Atletico de Madrid. Especially because I'm not from here. I'm from Slovenia, I wasn't born here. It's an honour and it makes me proud," he said.
Oblak also appreciated the role of Godin and full back Filipe Luis, also expected to leave before the start of the new season, in the rise of Atletico and in his career.
"Diego told us he is leaving. He's done a great job at this club, winning a lot of trophies. He was our captain this season and I'm very grateful to have had him by my side.
"The summer is long so let's see what happens, it's difficult to speak about next season right now. I have only good things to say about Godin and Filipe Luis, though. Wonderful teammates, I'm proud to say we played together." he said.