Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone insisted he was not yet thinking about the Champions League.

A brace from Alvaro Morata and a Koke goal saw Atletico beat Real Mallorca 3-0 on Friday to extend their unbeaten run to 14 matches in all competitions.

Part of that run was eliminating Liverpool in the Champions League last 16 to book their spot in the quarter-finals.

But Simeone, whose side consolidated third spot in the LaLiga table, said the Champions League was not yet a concern, even with the quarter-final draw to be held on July 10.

"I'm not thinking at all about the Champions League at the moment," he told a news conference.

"There's still four very important games left, against teams who are also fighting for places in LaLiga. We're just going to keep competing until the end of the season, like we always do.

"Now we have a slightly bigger time to rest, which is every four days if I'm not mistaken.

"And now we're just going to keep trying to have a little bit of continuity because there's slightly more time to recover. Now the players are starting to get ready and accustomed to quickly getting ready physically again for the next game."

Atletico are in action again on Tuesday, when they visit Celta Vigo.

Diego Simeone backed Joao Felix despite substituting the attacker again in Atletico Madrid's 3-0 win over Real Mallorca in LaLiga on Friday.

Joao Felix was replaced early in the second half at the Wanda Metropolitano, where Alvaro Morata scored a brace before Koke's sealer.

A reported €126million signing from Benfica last year, the Portugal international has been substituted in 17 of his 21 LaLiga starts.

But Atletico coach Simeone backed the 20-year-old and said he had full confidence in the attacker.

"We are absolutely confident in his quality, his talent and the way he plays and we need him to reproduce on the field," he told a news conference, via AS.

"We focus on the goal of the team and the club, we do not stop at individualities. On the basis of promoting individualities, we seek to improve the collective. If we stop at the singles it would be dangerous.

"Joao started well against Osasuna, he had good games, [against Mallorca] he was not as fine in his game and he understood that the team needed other characteristics as with Vitolo, who worked for what the team needed."

In 34 appearances in all competitions this season, Joao Felix has scored eight goals and provided three assists.

Simeone, whose side consolidated third place in the table, said his message to younger players was simple.

"I always try to convey to the young people who come here that this is a competitive team, that they have to win," he said.

"And we work as a consequence of looking for the best to win, we have no commitment to anyone, only that things go towards where we understand that it is better."

Atletico are in action again on Tuesday when they visit Celta Vigo.

Diego Simeone reiterated his surprise after Antoine Griezmann was used sparingly by Barcelona against Atletico Madrid, but suggested the forward still had time to make an impact.

Griezmann was introduced in the 90th minute of Tuesday's 2-2 draw against his former club at Camp Nou and registered just six touches of the ball.

The France international has been a sub in three of Barca's last four games and has been linked with a move away at the end of the season, just a year after arriving from Atleti in a €120m transfer.

Simeone said after the game he was lost for words at Griezmann's struggles at Camp Nou but, speaking at a news conference on Thursday, he refused to criticise the 29-year-old for swapping clubs.

"I don't want to be disrespectful," he said. "At the moment we are playing a lot in this season finale and that point is not important for us today."

Asked for his opinion on the substitution, Simeone said: "I am without words. Speechless.

"I don't drive a truck, I drive a team of footballers who work for a major club like Atleti. 

"In our team, three minutes can be decisive. We lost a Champions League final in the space of three minutes and for me they are very important."

Atletico's away draw with reigning champions Barca made it 13 games without defeat in all competitions, including a 4-2 aggregate win over Liverpool in the last 16 of the Champions League.

Simeone credits the victory at Anfield prior to the suspension of football due to coronavirus as the key to his side's recent resurgence in LaLiga, with four wins and two draws since the restart lifting Atleti into third place ahead of Friday's clash with Real Mallorca.

"We played a great match against Liverpool with a result that we knew was going to give us a major boost in LaLiga," he said.

"In LaLiga you are awarded for consistency. It is not over yet, but we know the Liverpool result was important for us before the break. 

"The players trained well at home and we returned as we wanted. The group is good, with good relationships between the players.

"We have to continue improving and achieve our objective against Mallorca. Hopefully we can finish as high as possible in the league."

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone said he is "without words" amid Antoine Griezmann's struggles at Barcelona.

Griezmann was a 90th-minute substitute against former team Atletico, who earned a 2-2 draw away to stuttering Barca in LaLiga on Tuesday.

A €120million signing from Atletico at the start of the season, Griezmann arrived amid much hype but the star forward has struggled at Camp Nou, where he has started on the bench against Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao in recent weeks.

Griezmann has scored eight LaLiga goals this season and 14 across all competitions for second-placed Barca, who could fall four points adrift of bitter rivals Real Madrid on Thursday.

However, Griezmann has not scored since Barca's 1-1 draw against Napoli in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie prior to the coronavirus pandemic in February.

Asked about Griezmann, Simeone told Movistar: "I'm without words."

Diego Costa's 11th-minute own goal had put Barca ahead before Saul Niguez's penalty restored parity for Atletico eight minutes later.

Lionel Messi converted a penalty of his own five minutes into the second half to celebrate his 700th career goal, but another Saul spot-kick – in the 62nd minute – secured a draw for Atletico.

It is the first time Atletico have scored two goals against Barca in LaLiga under Simeone, whose side are third and two points clear of Sevilla with five matches remaining.

"We are respectful of Barcelona ​​with the quality they have," Simeone said.

"The game was played as a result of what we usually do. We started well. Their goal came in an isolated play.

"Then to generate a difficult game against a team that keep the ball well.

"We tried until the end. The work was very good, a very competitive team. I'm happy."

Joao Felix is perhaps feeling the pressure of the "economic impact" from his move to Atletico Madrid but he can emulate Antoine Griezmann in becoming a star for Diego Simeone's side, says Abel Xavier.

The Portugal sensation was one of the most sought-after players of the previous close season prior to joining Atleti, who paid €126million to Benfica for his signature.

There have been flashes of the brilliance that saw Atleti stump up that huge sum, though six goals and a solitary assist from 24 LaLiga appearances - prior to Tuesday's clash with Barcelona - is hardly the most fruitful return.

Former Portugal international Xavier is convinced Joao Felix will adapt to life at the Wanda Metropolitano, though, and is sure it remains the right environment for the 20-year-old to flourish.

"There is a great hope on Felix because of his move to Atletico [but] the economic impact of his value is giving him too much pressure," Xavier told Stats Perform News.

"He needs to find the correct surrounding to be able to realise the potential of his own game. 

"That is going to be the next step with him, especially at Atletico Madrid with their philosophy and style of play.

"I admire Simeone a lot. There are a lot of people who do not like the identity of his game because he's very effective. At the end of the day he's fighting for the big trophies.

"But when you are integrating a big player, a fantasy player, a player who likes to have the ball…it's a process also for Felix to work on different aspects of the game.

"Maybe he was not used to defending so much without the ball. He needs to have the ball.

"For that reason I think it's a good process that will build him in different aspects to become stronger.  

"He's going to be one of the greatest in the future, for sure, with the correct set-up and style of play collectively."

Some pundits have questioned whether Joao Felix was right to move to Atleti and his name was linked tentatively with Manchester United during the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

Xavier doubts anyone would pay more for his services than Atleti did, though, and said Joao Felix can become key for Simeone, just as Griezmann did for five seasons before joining Barcelona last year.

"It's very difficult at this present moment that someone can come and pay more than what Atletico paid for him," Xavier said. 

"He needs right now to be focused on his game. He's had a few injuries also, which is not a good sign. He needs to find stability and consistency. 

"Atletico right now is the best place for him. Stay two or three years and be the main figure in the same way that Antoine Griezmann was."

Diego Simeone tried to sidestep a question relating to reports Barcelona coach Quique Setien has lost the support of key players but emphasised the importance of managing a squad's emotions.

Barca host Simeone's Atletico Madrid on Tuesday amid a difficult situation, with media reports claiming Setien and his coaching staff are at odds with key players.

A clip from Barca's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Saturday went viral on social media due to it appearing to show Lionel Messi ignoring Setien's assistant Eder Sarabia.

Although Setien conceded it is normal to have occasional differences, he insisted the squad is unified despite the apparent issue with Sarabia and the fact certain publications have suggested the head coach himself has a strained relationship with Messi.

Simeone, who is rarely forthcoming regarding internal matters in news conferences, was typically reluctant to appear as if he was offering an opinion on Barca's problems, though he did stress the importance of squad harmony.

"You know me, I don't give my opinion on what's going on in other dressing rooms," Simeone told a news conference on Monday.

"I just make an opinion on ours. We need to keep it protected, always take care of it and always manage the feeling of the players, which is the most important for a squad.

"The most important thing is to manage, in my team, the emotional part, which I consider to be the key part."

When asked how he would solve issues similar to those appearing at Barca, he added: "I wouldn't tell you, and I would try to solve it naturally in our camp, which is the dressing room or the training session.

"A cup of coffee could also be there in any informal chat that could help for solving any internal issue."

Saul Niguez urged Atletico Madrid to continue their good run of form after a 2-1 win over Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga on Saturday.

Atletico consolidated third spot in the table courtesy of their fourth straight win as Saul and Diego Costa, the latter via the penalty spot, scored at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Saul was pleased to get on the scoresheet and called for Atletico to keep pushing ahead of Tuesday's clash with Barcelona.

"I'm very happy to have scored the opener. Scoring without our fans feels totally different, but it gave us the lead. It also generated spaces because they were defending deep and it was hard," the midfielder said.

"When we went 1-0 up, they left more spaces and allowed us to attack them in different ways. In the first half we were up against a side with six defenders and everyone else in the middle of the pitch.

"Sometimes we didn't interpret correctly what had to be done, because we tried to attack them through the middle. There was more space down the wings.

"I think we didn't play badly in the first half despite being 0-0. I think we did quite well, but it's difficult to unravel the opposition when they have six defenders and are fresh. That happens to us and to everyone else.

"We're going to enjoy this good win. I think it's the first time we won four straight games this season. We're enjoying a positive streak and have to continue like this. If we do, we'll reach our goal."

While Joselu scored a late spot-kick for Alaves, Atletico are now four points clear of fourth-placed Sevilla.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone talked up the importance of the win and is prepared for another difficult encounter at Camp Nou.

"The next game will be really tough, like every time we play in Barcelona," he said.

"Now it's time to rest and prepare, so that we arrive in the best possible shape."

Atletico Madrid took a big step towards sealing Champions League qualification as they defeated Deportivo Alaves in a 2-1 LaLiga win at Wanda Metropolitano.

After a low-key start to Saturday's contest, a Saul Niguez header just before the hour mark put the hosts in front.

Two Atleti substitutes played a part in the second as Diego Costa converted a penalty won by Marcos Llorente to wrap up what ultimately proved to be a comfortable victory for Diego Simeone's side.

Joselu scored a stoppage-time penalty for the visitors, but Atletico are now four points clear of Sevilla in fourth and have opened up a superb nine-point cushion over Getafe in fifth.

Alvaro Morata sent an early header just wide, shortly before his flick-on to fellow forward Joao Felix saw the Portugal international send an impressive acrobatic effort narrowly off target.

Jose Maria Gimenez put a free header over from 12 yards and, despite their opponents defending deeply, it was Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak who had the only first-half save to make from Aleix Vidal.

Diego Simeone brought on Costa and Llorente early in the second half as he attempted to inject life into the hosts and the latter made an instant impression, winning a free-kick down the right.

Kieran Trippier sent in a fine delivery and the onrushing Saul converted with a thumping header from six yards for his fourth goal of season, keeper Fernando Pacheco getting a hand to it but unable to make the save.

Alaves almost levelled when a powerful aerial effort from Oliver Burke flew inches wide, but Atleti soon threatened at the other end when Llorente's long-range effort forced Pacheco to parry.

Llorente then showed superb pace and skill down the right before drawing a foul from Ruben Duarte, with Costa sending Pacheco the wrong way from the spot 17 minutes from time.

Three minutes into added time, Joselu sent a fine penalty into the top corner after Koke was penalised for handball, but it was too late for the visitors to recover.


What does it mean? Atletico impressing since lockdown

Atletico took the chance to extend their advantage over Sevilla, who could only draw with Real Valladolid on Friday, and now look almost certain to claim a Champions League spot.

They have impressed since LaLiga resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break – having drawn their first game back, they have won four straight games, with only the late spot-kick denying them a fourth straight clean sheet.

Llorente lifts Atletico

Former Real Madrid midfielder Llorente changed the game when he came on, winning the free-kick and penalty that led to each goal, as well as testing Pacheco with a rasping drive.

Correa struggles to make an impact

Angel Correa only had one blocked shot and 10 completed passes to show for his 57 minutes on the pitch, though he was not the only one to blame for a sluggish Atletico start.

What's next?

Atletico needed points in this match as their next one is a huge test away to Barcelona on Tuesday. Alaves, meanwhile, are at home to Granada a day later as they bid to halt a run of three straight defeats.

Diego Simeone hopes Marcos Llorente can continue to maintain the same high standards after once again playing a starring role for Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. 

Llorente was signed from rivals Real Madrid as a holding midfielder but has adapted to a more advanced role in the second half of the 2019-20 season. 

The 25-year-old scored twice in a stunning Champions League win at Liverpool and has been brilliant since LaLiga returned to action amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Indeed, Llorente created Atleti's winner - an own goal - as they defeated Levante 1-0 on the road, their third straight success since the resumed to leave his side in third spot. 

Simeone believes Llorente is gaining the rewards for his hard work, having stuck with the team through a tough first half of the campaign. 

"The facts speak for themselves," Simeone said. "It is not necessary to praise [Llorente] when you can watch his movement, attitude, pressure and see what is happening to him. 

"Hopefully he can maintain this consistency, because he worked a lot. He suffered a lot because he played little since he arrived. 

"After seeing how he worked in training, we tried to put him further on from the Liverpool game and we found a different characteristic from those of [forwards Angel] Correa, Joao [Felix], [Diego] Costa and [Alvaro] Morata. 

"He gives us a more important footballer in the team." 

With the media's focus trained on Llorente, Simeone added: "He created this situation after so much effort. 

"He was always training well, without protesting or having a bad attitude after being left out a lot of times. In the end, the people who work are always rewarded." 

Meanwhile, victory against Levante brought up a special milestone for Simeone, his 194th LaLiga victory as Atleti coach tying the late Luis Aragones' club record. 

Simeone said: "At no time did I plan to compete with Luis. I know, with the relationship that I had with him, that he will be happy from where he is watching. I have no doubt that he will be enjoying it. 

"It is always important to win. In the last five games, we played four away and we won three and we drew one. We are changing that situation that was costing us so much." 

Atletico Madrid again etched Diego Simeone's name into their record books as they defeated Levante on Tuesday.

A vital victory in the chase for Champions League qualification represented a landmark for iconic head coach Simeone in LaLiga.

The 1-0 win - secured thanks to an early own goal - was Simeone's 194th in the league as Atleti boss, matching Luis Aragones' record haul.

After three consecutive triumphs following the resumption of football in Spain, the 2013-14 title-winning coach reached the total in his 319th LaLiga match.

Aragones - the club's record goalscorer as a player - had four stints as Atleti coach, winning LaLiga in 1976-77, but required 407 games to tally 194 top-flight wins.

Simeone will have the opportunity to claim top spot outright when his side host Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

Diego Simeone believes Atletico Madrid's defensive resilience is merely a by-product of the players' commitment to his footballing vision.

Atleti edged a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid on Saturday, the first time they have recorded back-to-back LaLiga victories since beating Real Betis and Levante either side of the mid-season break.

A return encounter against the latter opponents is up next for Los Colchoneros, whose previous away fixture ended in a 5-0 shellacking of Osasuna.

The departures of Diego Godin and Lucas Hernandez last year forced Simeone to remodel his backline, with Stefan Savic and Jose Gimenez stepping up to form a fine alliance at centre-back, while Kieran Trippier and Renan Lodi have proved shrewd full-back additions.

Backed up by the exceptional Jan Oblak between the posts, Atletico have only been breached 22 times in 30 LaLiga games in 2019-20, although Simeone insists he is reluctant to rely too much on this obduracy.

"There will always be mistakes, all teams make mistakes," he told a pre-match news conference.

"We must try to be focused and, with the best security we can offer the team, we have rotated.

"I am still convinced that the team's strength is the emotional convention of the group. This will be the way to reach the goals we want."

That goal, at least until August's mini-tournament in Lisbon to conclude this season's competition comes around, is securing qualification for the Champions League with a top-four finish.

The weekend result left Atleti in third, level on points with Sevilla immediately behind them and six better off than Valencia down in eighth.

More sparkling form from Joao Felix would certainly strengthen their hand after the Portugal youngster notched a brace as Osasuna were torn apart.

"He is a different player," Simeone said of the €120million recruit, who has endured a mixed debut campaign in LaLiga.

"We have always valued him, we have seen him in training and in games. Surely, when he grows up and can spend more time in situations that are decisive for the team, he will continue to evolve.

"He has all the important qualities to break a game. With his growth in the game he will grow even more as a footballer."

Experience is certainly not something Joao Felix's boss lacks.

If Atleti are victorious against Levante, Simone will equal Luis Aragones as the coach with the most LaLiga victories for the club.

"I did not know about this and, as I have already said, I do not stop on the path we are going through," he added.

"This is not the time to stop and look in the mirror; it is only time to work, win and continue in the best possible way."

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone hailed his team's late win over Real Valladolid as they boosted their chances of finishing in LaLiga's top four.

Vitolo came off the bench and headed home the 81st-minute winner for Atletico in a 1-0 victory at home to Valladolid on Saturday.

Atletico moved back up to third in the standings – level on points with Sevilla through 30 games and four clear of Getafe – in the race for Champions League qualification.

"It's always important to take something from a game and even better when you win," Simeone said.

"There were things to improve, but we've had three months without a normal preparation and then you're playing every three days.

"There's a need to adapt and reinvent yourself, given the circumstances. This was a very important win.

"We had chances in the first half and couldn't score, then in the second half it was tough against a very organised side.

"We could have won or lost, but we achieved a great result."

Atletico played behind closed doors at the Wanda Metropolitano due to the coronavirus pandemic and Simeone added: "The fans weren't there in the flesh, but they were there in spirit.

"The minute of silence before the match and the music in the empty stadium were pure emotion. We lost many people."

Vitolo, whose Atletico eliminated titleholders Liverpool en route to the Champions League quarter-finals this season, said: "The club's goal is to quality for the Champions League next season.

"There are many teams that trying and it will be decided in the last matches. Hopefully we can enter and give the fans a joy."

Marcos Llorente's eye for goal in training has persuaded Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone to use the midfielder in more advanced positions. 

Llorente was Atletico's hero with a two-goal salvo in extra time to inspire a thrilling last-16 Champions League win over holders Liverpool in March. 

That was Atleti's last game before the coronavirus shutdown but Simeone was evidently keen to see more of the same when they resumed at Athletic Bilbao last weekend, with the 25-year-old deployed behind Diego Costa in a 1-1 draw. 

Llorente was on the bench for the midweek trip to Osasuna but came on with devastating effect during the second half – scoring once and laying on late goals for Alvaro Morata and Yannick Carrasco in a 5-0 romp. 

That goal and his Anfield brace account for three quarters of the ex-Real Madrid man's season haul, but Simeone feels he has spotted a prolific quality to Llorente's work – citing his previous success in redeploying Antoine Griezmann. 

"I saw Griezmann, who could play as a second striker or on the point of the attack, when everyone said he was a winger," Simeone told a news conference ahead of Saturday's LaLiga match against Real Valladolid. 

"Lucas [Hernandez, Bayern Munich's former Atletico centre-back] was world champion [with France] at left-back. 

"When the players show they have the tools, we must be attentive as coaches to take advantage of it. 

"We saw he was making goals, goals and goals in training and that is very important in the world of football." 

Morata was on target after coming off the bench to replace Diego Costa, having also been used as a substitute against Athletic. 

Simeone insists both strikers are a key part of his plans in a reconfigured attack. 

"I spoke to them a week before the start of LaLiga and I transmitted what I feel, they are very important players,” he said. 

"Each one can be useful to the team, both are very committed." 

Costa was awarded a commemorative plaque by team-mate Koke on behalf of the club after making his 200th Atletico appearance at Osasuna. 

"It's an honour to reach 200 games for Atleti," said the former Chelsea man, who is in his second spell with Simeone's team.

"When I arrived I wanted to play and feel I was important but never imagined I to reach such a milestone."

The Valladolid game will be Atletico's first at their Wanda Metropolitano home since LaLiga resumed behind closed doors.

They lie fourth in the battle for Champions League qualification and Costa added: "We all know we have the best fans in Spain, if not the world. We're going to miss their presence, but we know what we have to do.

"We have nine finals ahead of us and we have to win. We have to play as if the fans were here to earn the three points."

Joao Felix was delighted with his two-goal performance in Atletico Madrid's 5-0 thrashing of Osasuna in LaLiga on Wednesday.

The 20-year-old attacker struck twice before goals from Marcos Llorente, Alvaro Morata and Yannick Carrasco lifted Atletico to a comfortable win.

Joao Felix moved onto eight goals in his first season at Atletico and the Portugal international was happy with his display.

"I'm feeling good and very happy because of the two goals and the 5-0 win," he said.

He added: "It's very different. We like playing with fans in the stands, even away from home. We have to get used to it and continue like this."

Atletico moved into fourth in the table, sitting two points clear of Real Sociedad – who have a game in hand – and Getafe.

Diego Simeone said it was important to claim three points as Atletico recorded their first win since returning from the coronavirus-enforced break.

"It's important. We needed a win and we were up against a side that completed a great game in San Sebastian," the Atletico coach said.

"We knew we'd encounter difficulties like the ones we found.

"The game was very evenly matched until we went 2-0 up. Both sides had their chances.

"I think our attacking players were fast and clinical and we benefitted from that."

Atletico are in action again with a clash at home to Real Valladolid on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Partey is good enough to play for "the best teams in Europe", according to head coach Diego Simeone.

Thomas has been linked with a move to the Premier League with Arsenal after eight years in Madrid, where he first featured for Atleti's youth and reserve teams.

Simeone can see why such a transfer would appeal to the London club and several other European giants, even if Thomas is still searching for consistency.

"Thomas is the one who best understands this position and the transition from defence to attack, shooting, scoring, providing assists and playing passes between the lines," Simeone told reporters ahead of Atleti's game against Osasana.

"When he's at his best level consistently, he's so good that all the best teams in Europe are looking at him."

Joao Felix was one of the continent's most sought-after talents this time last year, but his first season at Atleti has not gone entirely to plan.

A €126million signing from Benfica, the Portuguese has scored just four times in LaLiga and did not feature in the weekend draw with Athletic Bilbao due to a knee problem.

"[Joao Felix] had started these recent training sessions very well, but then he had to sit out due to a knee problem," Simeone said. "Now he is working with the same enthusiasm.

"We will assess how he is, we will do a couple of tests, and based on this, we will decide what is best for tomorrow [against Osasuna].

"He has to do what he has done in other games, against Villarreal, Liverpool.

"He had a great pre-season, a very good start, then he had an injury. It was difficult for him to return because of the rhythm and the association with his new team-mates. And then he started to be the player from the beginning.

"He is a young boy. It is normal that this happens to him during the season, but we have the idea that he is very important from here to the end."

Simeone's comments came after Atletico confirmed defender Felipe had suffered a thigh strain.

The 31-year-old suffered a setback having already missed Sunday's stalemate at Athletic, Atleti’s first game since LaLiga's resumption, through injury.

"Felipe Monteiro underwent further tests at the Clinica Universidad de Navarra that confirmed a muscle strain in the quadriceps of his left thigh," the team said on Tuesday.

"Although the defender has made progress since the previous tests he underwent last week, the area requires maximum caution and he will continue to train and be assessed individually."

Page 1 of 7
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.