One-game ban for Real Madrid midfielder Valverde no surprise to Simeone

By Sports Desk January 17, 2020

Diego Simeone fully expected Federico Valverde to be given only a short suspension following his crucial foul on Alvaro Morata in the Supercopa de Espana final.

With the score 0-0 in the final five minutes of extra time in Jeddah, Atletico Madrid's Morata raced through on goal only for Valverde to bring down the striker to halt his progress.

Valverde, who was later named man of the match, was sent off for the deliberate foul but went on to celebrate when Real Madrid won the penalty shoot-out 4-1.

Simeone had few qualms with the challenge at the time, insisting he would likely have done the same to win the match, and the Atleti boss was also not surprised to see Valverde earn only a one-game ban.

"I was clear after the match, saying that was what he had to do," Simeone said on Friday ahead of a LaLiga trip to Eibar. "I was also clear about what would happen.

"It doesn't make sense to wear myself out today on something that we already knew would happen. That's why I'm focusing on Eibar.

"We're in the middle of the season and there's still a lot of work ahead. There are things to improve. We worked well until September, then things were more difficult in November.

"Then we grew and we kept that up in the Supercopa. We're competing well and I'm proud to have competed well against a team like Real Madrid that is powerful in all senses."

The Supercopa final was another difficult game for €126million forward Joao Felix, but Simeone insists the Portugal international is learning all the time.

"The Supercopa was another step forward in the experience of a 20-year-old boy with incredible talent and skill. This road he's walking will be useful for the future," Simeone said.

"We believe in him; we need his skills. He has the ability to score. We hope that these experiences he's living in this new team help him to get stronger and grow day after day.

"We're the ones in charge to find their better version and find the better position so they can unlock their potential. I don't do things differently with Joao than with [Renan] Lodi, [Hector] Herrera, Koke or Saul [Niguez].

"We always try to do the best so players with that potential can put it to good use for the club and the team, so we're working with him and Lodi, the younger ones, so they can grow."

This weekend is the first round of LaLiga matches since Ernesto Valverde was sacked as Barcelona head coach in the wake of their 3-2 Supercopa semi-final loss to Atleti.

"I'm not the one to give an opinion about what happens to others," Simeone said. "Valverde is a really great coach. He left his team in first place in the league and still alive in the Champions League.

"He is a great person and has always been polite and exemplary as he managed the situation."

Related items

  • Coronavirus: Liverpool will win Premier League title even if season is cancelled – UEFA president Coronavirus: Liverpool will win Premier League title even if season is cancelled – UEFA president

    UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin sees "no way" in which Liverpool could be denied the Premier League title this season despite the coronavirus pandemic.

    Liverpool were 25 points clear atop the table when the campaign was suspended due to coronavirus last month.

    It remains unclear when, and if, the season will resume, but Ceferin said Jurgen Klopp's men were almost certain to be champions, giving the club their first top-flight title since 1990.

    "I see no way to keep Liverpool untitled," he told Slovenian sports daily Ekipa.

    "If it is played, then they will almost certainly win it – theoretically they have not reached the guaranteed level, but it is practically close.

    "However, if it could not be played, it would also be necessary to announce the results in some way … and then the champions should be determined. And of course again I don't see a scenario that would not be Liverpool.

    "I understand that fans will be disappointed if it happens in an empty stadium or even at a green table, but I believe they will win the title in one way or another."

    However, Ceferin insisted the plan was still for leagues around the world to be completed.

    "I just spoke hypothetically," he said. "We are also preparing for such scenarios, but we are not dealing with the details for now.

    "At this point, we are fully committed to completing the competition."

  • Coronavirus: Messi hailed as 'global example' amid footballer pay-cut debate Coronavirus: Messi hailed as 'global example' amid footballer pay-cut debate

    Barcelona star Lionel Messi is "a global example" when it comes to the debate over footballers and pay cuts during the coronavirus pandemic, according to a sports psychologist.

    Messi issued a statement on behalf of the Barca first team on March 30 to confirm that the players had agreed to a 70 per cent reduction in wages to help to ease the financial burden on the club while football is largely at a standstill.

    The players are also making further financial contributions to ensure Barca's non-playing employees can take home their full wages while LaLiga remains suspended during Spain's nationwide lockdown.

    Atletico Madrid announced last week that their players would be taking a similar pay reduction.

    The decisions from two of Spain's top clubs encouraged debate over the practices of the Premier League elite, whose players are yet to announce any definitive agreement on wage reductions or financial contributions towards frontline health systems.

    Tom Bates believes Messi and Barca's example will help to encourage other clubs to follow suit while the COVID-19 crisis persists.

    "The players that I have spoken with from the Premier League all the way through, they have different perspectives, naturally," he told Stats Perform.

    "One of the things that the guys have said is, 'Well, actually at our club we are quite a wealthy club, so we could probably afford to keep our staff paid, but other clubs in different leagues won't be able to do that'. Others feel like taking a pay cut to keep their staff on board is absolutely fine.

    "The classic case is Leo Messi, who started this and was one of the first players to take a 70 per cent pay cut in order to make sure the staff at Barcelona were able to carry on working, and I think that really is a global example to everybody when you're talking about that level in money in wages, and that type of athlete.

    "I am very privileged: I have met Leo Messi and [Pep] Guardiola over there in Barcelona together as a team, and it doesn't surprise me that they are leading the way with this.

    "If there was going to be a global example of a player out there doing something for the greater good of their club – and he embodies that for me – so, in my professional opinion, if you can afford that and if you're able to support by taking a pay cut, then clearly those who need it the most are going to benefit."

    Bates also praised the influence of former Manchester United and England captain Wayne Rooney in encouraging conversations around mental health.

    Writing for The Times, Derby County star Rooney outlined how the suspension of the football calendar could have implications for the mental wellbeing of players who have seen their routine grind to a halt.

    "Wayne is in many ways an ambassador, he is a cultural leader for the game, especially because what he has achieved at international level, and certainly to be continuing his career even now and still performing at a very high level encourages others to do the same," Bates said.

    "When you have somebody like Wayne come and be very open and very honest about mental health on a global level within the game, that can only be a good thing because it encourages others to have conversations, to open up conversations and be courageous enough to talk about their own mental health, and of course talking about it is the first step to improving it."

  • Coronavirus: Premier League will cancel rest of season, says Udinese's Marino Coronavirus: Premier League will cancel rest of season, says Udinese's Marino

    The Premier League will follow Belgium's Pro League and cancel the rest of its season, according to Udinese sporting director Pierpaolo Marino.

    With Liverpool 25 points clear atop the table, the Premier League was suspended last month due to the coronavirus pandemic.

    Many leagues around the world have been brought to a standstill, with Belgium set to cancel the rest of their campaign and award the title to leaders Club Brugge.

    Marino, whose club are owned by Giampaolo Pozzo – the father of Watford owner Gino, believes England will do likewise.

    "The Belgian federation has sanctioned the end of the championship, despite the threat of UEFA sanctions," he told Sportitalia on Tuesday.

    "England is about to issue the same measure because the situation is becoming very serious. I speak of the Premier League."

    Marino added: "We have to get away from this danger, no matter the weather. I'm worried about the coming seasons, not the old one."

    More than 81,800 people have died from coronavirus worldwide, while there have been more than 1.4 million cases.

    In the United Kingdom, more than 6,100 people have died from coronavirus.

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.