Atletico Madrid flew flags at half-mast on Sunday in honour of former defender Jose Luis Capon and youth team player Christian Minchola.

Capon, who won Spanish league titles with Atletico in 1973 and 1977 and the 1976 Copa del Rey during a 10-year spell at the club, died at the age of 72.

His passing came just 24 hours after the death of 14-year-old Minchola – a member of the club's youth team.

"Today is a sad day for the rojiblanca family," the club said in a statement.

"Atletico de Madrid is in mourning for the death of our former player Jose Luis Capon Gonzalez. The former rojiblanco defender died at the age of 72 in his hometown.

"To remember Capon, the flag honouring our fans located in the Wanda Metropolitano will fly at half-mast for 24 hours in honour of our legendary player.

"With the departure of Capon, the Atletico family loses another of the symbols that gave everything for this club on and off the pitch. From the club, the president, chief executive officer and our board offer their sincere condolences to all his family and friends."

Commenting on the death of Minchola, the cause of which has not been revealed, head coach Diego Simeone said: "With all my heart I send my condolences to Christian's family and friends. Rest in peace."

Club captain Koke added: "Anger and pain for having to say goodbye to Christian Minchola. Life is very unfair.

"Proud that you wore this shirt. Much encouragement to colleagues, family and friends. Rest in peace."

Atletico Madrid's thrilling Champions League extra-time triumph over Liverpool at Anfield already feels like an event belonging to another era.

As the days and weeks of sporting lockdown stretch on, we have Diego Simeone and his battle-hardened players to thank for tiding us over with a last, lingering memory of gripping sporting theatre.

When Jurgen Klopp's post-match critique of Atleti's reactive style – one that has served to make them a compelling and legitimate heavyweight of European football in the modern era – was put to Simeone, he offered his own interpretation.

"We try to exploit deficiencies in the opponent. That's what we do," he said, before adding, somewhat deliciously, "And we try to win, with all our soul."

However, while most of the footballing world except Michael Owen joined in with the plaudits, it was tempting to wonder whether this very same approach has left Atleti running on empty domestically.

LaLiga paused with 11 matches to play, topped by Barcelona and Real Madrid despite the two superpowers enduring unremarkable campaigns. Atleti are languishing in sixth, so we felt it was worth teaming up with our friends at Opta to examine how the land lies at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Dwnindling with Diego?

In all of their full seasons under Simeone, dating back to 2012-13, Atletico have never collected fewer points after 27 games than the 45 they have this time around.

Their next lowest was 52 points heading into the final stretch of 2016-17, where they promptly took 26 from the remaining 33 on offer and finished third. Do Simeone's current vintage have a similar charge for the line in their locker?

They still rely on a solid defence, although the departure of the formidable Diego Godin to Inter has left a mark. A return of 11 clean sheets from 27 games is not to be sniffed at, although neighbours Real Madrid (13) and Getafe (12) have earned more shutouts.

The problem is those solid foundations are being forced to do more work because the goals have dried up.

A haul of 31 LaLiga goals is Atleti's lowest at this stage of a season for 10 years. In fact, they have only scored 31 or fewer four times in their history after 27 matches.

The net result is 12 draws – at least three more than at the same point of any campaign over the past decade.

Cholismo in retrospect

Nevertheless, it is worth remembering we are judging Simeone by standards he has set himself – and what standards those are.

On Atletico's all-time list, he has managed the second highest number of LaLiga matches (315) behind Luis Aragones (407).

Simeone is just three behind former Spain boss Aragones' tally of 194 top-flight wins with the Rojoblancos.

It means his win percentage far outstrips any other long-serving incumbent. Indeed, victories in 60.6 per cent league matches in charge of Atleti can only be beaten by Otto Bumbel (66.7 per cent) and Antonio Briones (63.6 per cent), who oversaw 30 and 11 games respectively.

Europe's top five leagues have been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic and there is widespread uncertainty over the future of the 2019-20 season.

Will tournaments be completed when conditions are suitable? Will things finish as they are? Will the campaign be declared null and void?

With the help of Opta, we look back over the previous 10 seasons to see who would have been crowned champions if the Premier League, LaLiga, Serie A, Ligue 1 and the Bundesliga had stopped where there are now.

 

Aguer-no!

It was an iconic moment in Premier League history. Sergio Aguero scored Manchester City's second stoppage-time goal as they came from behind to defeat QPR 3-2 and clinch their first top-flight title in 44 years, beating crestfallen arch-rivals Manchester United to the trophy on the final day of the season.

However, if the campaign had been stopped where it is now it would have been United who were celebrating due to a one-point advantage.

It is the only occasion since 2009-10 that the team on top after 29 matchdays has not won the Premier League.

 

Atleti's title wiped out

Atletico Madrid incredibly broke the Barcelona and Real Madrid duopoly in LaLiga in 2013-14, with Diego Godin salvaging a draw at Camp Nou on the final day to ensure they finished top of the pile.

However, it was local rivals Real Madrid, led by Carlo Ancelotti, who sat three points clear after 27 games of the season, meaning Diego Simeone's crowning achievement would not have occurred.

The only other instance of a team being displaced in the final 11 matches came in 2009-10, when Madrid sat ahead of Barca on goal difference but ended up seeing Pep Guardiola's men go on to win LaLiga for a second straight season.

 

Juventus dominance broken up

Eight straight Serie A titles have seen Juventus create history in Italy, but they would have only managed five if the previous seasons stopped after 26 games – the total the majority of clubs have completed in 2019-20.

The Bianconeri went undefeated under Antonio Conte in 2011-12, although it was Milan who topped the table at this point in the campaign, meaning Massimiliano Allegri would have won successive Scudetti at San Siro.

Maurizio Sarri would also not have had to have waited until winning the Europa League with Chelsea last year for his first major title.

Sarri's Napoli only surrendered top spot to Juve on matchday 27 in 2017-18 and they failed to recover it, missing out on their best chance to finish top since the Diego Maradona era.

 

QSI off to the perfect start

The landscape of Ligue 1 changed dramatically when Qatar Sports Investments (QSI) bought Paris Saint-Germain in June 2011, although no silverware was added to the Parc des Princes trophy cabinet in the first season following the takeover.

However, they would have been crowned champions had the 2011-12 season finished after 28 games, denying a Montpellier side powered by the goals of Olivier Giroud an unlikely first Ligue 1 title.

There would have been bad news for PSG in 2014-15, though, as the trophy would have gone to Hubert Fournier's Lyon due to a one-point margin.

Bordeaux would have made it back-to-back titles in 2009-10, too, with Marseille having made the most of a collapse that saw Laurent Blanc's side slip from first to sixth over the final 10 matches.

 

Bundesliga business as usual

What changes with the Bundesliga title winners if you stop the previous 10 seasons after 25 games? Nothing.

Bayern Munich would have won eight championships to Borussia Dortmund's two.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone called for people to stay home in Spain to prevent the spread of coronavirus and protect "all of those around us".

LaLiga and Segunda games have been postponed for at least the next two matchdays in efforts to combat the spread of COVID-19, which continues to disrupt sport across the globe.

Simeone, who oversaw Atletico's Champions League last-16 victory over Liverpool on Wednesday, used social media to spread awareness about coronavirus.

"I wanted to send you a message of awareness," Simeone said in a video message posted to Twitter.

"From my home, I invite you all to follow the path set by the experts, taking care of ourselves and all of those around us. Let's stay home."

There have been more than 5,000 cases of coronavirus in Spain, with over 100 deaths.

Globally, over 5,400 people have died from the virus following more than 145,000 cases.

Prior to LaLiga being suspended, Atletico were sixth and a point behind fourth-placed Real Sociedad, with Barcelona two points clear atop the table.

Diego Simeone compared Jan Oblak to Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi after the goalkeeper's exploits as Atletico Madrid eliminated Champions League holders Liverpool.

Oblak produced a man-of-the-match display with a number of important saves in Atletico's stunning 3-2 extra-time victory over Liverpool at Anfield on Wednesday.

Liverpool were on top for much of the last-16 second leg but they could not move clear of Atletico or get the better of Oblak as the visitors secured a 4-2 aggregate triumph thanks to Marcos Llorente's brace and Alvaro Morata's late goal.

Regarded as one of the world's best goalkeepers, Oblak earned high praise from Atletico head coach Simeone post-match.

"We have a goalkeeper who is the best in the world, no doubt," Simeone said. "I have been saying that for some time.

"It's like Barcelona who have Messi. He decides games with his attacking play; Oblak resolves them with his saves."

Llorente came off the bench to replace a frustrated Diego Costa and Simeone added: "Llorente revolutionised the team.

"I'm very happy for the team and the club. It was a historic match against an extraordinary opponent with great intensity and a beautiful stadium.

"They pushed and held, without us ever moving away from our plan and with everyone's effort we succeeded.

"It gives me an enormous joy because, although it seems simple, it's not simple to win."

How on earth would Atletico Madrid stem the rolling relentless red wave without being swept away?

On the other hand, how would Liverpool break down the most stubborn opponents of this European era, who had shoved the hardest of all noses in front in this last-16 tie?

There was no need to mention that 19 of the Reds' wins in all competitions this season have come by a solitary goal. Or, for that matter, to note Atleti's solitary clean sheet in their past five matches came in the initial encounter.

This Herculean, knife-edge tie was one played out somewhere in the deceptive gap between reality and reputation. Whose bluff would hold, who would blink with it all on the line?

For all the thoughts Atletico would come and shut up shop, they arguably should have extended their overall lead after 15 seconds. Diego Costa, the pantomime villain moving with all the nimbleness of the back end of a pantomime horse, slung a shot into the side netting after being played onside by Virgil van Dijk.

There were some unusually uncertain moments from Liverpool's defensive talisman as the rain began to lash down unhelpfully on an encounter where any slip could be terminal to quarter-final prospects.

Costa glanced another presentable opportunity wide but it swiftly became clear Atletico's key man would be an obstructive presence of a different kind.

Jan Oblak's goalkeeping display was of the very highest standard as he racked up nine saves, some of which at close quarters were truly exceptional. 

It was a time for Liverpool to chip painstakingly away against opponents bedded in for the long haul. The quickfire eviscerations of Roma and Manchester City in 2018 were never likely to be repeated.

But then came a recall from the most celebrated Anfield European night of them all. If it's a deficit against LaLiga opponents that needs wiping out, Georginio Wijnaldum is your man.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, enjoying his most productive Liverpool outing since thrashing in deliriously against City two years ago, sent a delicious cross arcing back towards the penalty spot.

Stefan Savic and Felipe acquitted themselves superbly throughout the tie, but it was tempting to wonder whether the departed Diego Godin would have allowed Wijnaldum – toast of the unforgettable Barcelona heist – to power emphatically home.

The Netherlands midfielder was there again with a wonderful centre of his own for Roberto Firmino to finally edge the hosts in front during extra time. By that stage, Wijnaldum's goal felt like it belonged to another age. Bubbling, belching tension turned minutes into days before Saul Niguez's disallowed stoppage-time goal seemed to stop time altogether.

Sadio Mane had sought the movie action hero ending with a pair of overhead kicks but Firmino seemed to have landed the knockout blow. It looked like he was their Rocky, only for Adrian to cough up the decisive plot twist.

If Oblak's display was that of a goalkeeping grand master, Adrian looked every inch the number two, the bumbling apprentice. His scuffed, unnecessarily panicked clearance found a cool Joao Felix surveying the whole picture.

The Portuguese youngster, a child when the reputations being traded upon here were cast, slotted the ball to Marcos Llorente, who unerringly picked out the bottom corner.

"You'll Never Walk Alone," howled the Kop. And yet, Adrian could scarcely have appeared more solitary.

Audaciously, Atletico sprung from their robust shell once more, substitute Alvaro Morata this time assessing the scene. No one was thinking of Steven Gerrard against Olympiacos, Istanbul or anything from the Jurgen Klopp cannon. A new page to a different book was being written, with the unusually passive Van Dijk and Joe Gomez not daring to smear the wet ink.

Those chapters include Antoine Griezmann at the Allianz Arena and Chelsea collapsing at Stamford Bridge. The inimitable Diego Simeone the eloquent author of every one. Now, in Llorente – same crisp technique, same result, game over – he had his latest lead character to celebrate.

A fired-up Morata added a succinct footnote to another Anfield night of magic and memory, only this one will be eagerly told and retold in Madrid rather than Merseyside.

Diego Simeone has no plans to spring any surprises with his tactical approach in Atletico Madrid's crunch second-leg clash against Liverpool in the Champions League.

Atletico won the initial last-16 encounter 1-0, with Saul Niguez's early strike the difference at the Wanda Metropolitano as the holders suffered a rare loss.

The LaLiga side surrendered a 2-0 first-leg advantage against Juventus at the same stage of last season's competition, with head coach Simeone eager to avoid a repeat at Anfield on Wednesday. 

He conceded that surprise will not be a weapon at his disposal against the Premier League leaders, but the 49-year-old has confidence in his tried and tested methods that secured a path to the final in 2014 and 2016.

"Whether we can vary how we play, Liverpool will know pretty clearly how we are going to play," said Simeone.

"They know pretty much what our tactics are going to be going into the game after being here for eight years. If we start well, we have to keep it up.

"You know pretty much what I'll be doing, I don't think our line-up will be too far off what you think it will be.

"The game will demand that we are on our top form. We will see what sort of game we play and tactics we adopt. We think we can hurt them.

"There is a Plan B, of course. But if I tell you my plans for a game, it wouldn't be logical, would it?"

Reflecting on his side's exit at the hands of Juve, Simeone is hopeful of a more positive outcome this time around. 

"We couldn't play in Turin, they never let us compete," he said. "Hopefully [on Wednesday] they will let us compete and that will help us be competitive.

"Experiences in life always help you. But you have to make sure you don't repeat errors you have done before."

Atletico Madrid fans jeered Diego Simeone's decision to withdraw Joao Felix during Saturday's 2-2 draw with Sevilla but the coach explained he was under instruction to be "careful" with him.

Los Colchoneros missed out on the chance to usurp Sevilla and go third in LaLiga, as they struggled to break down their visitors after a thrilling first half.

Alvaro Morata's penalty and Joao Felix's deflected effort cancelled out Luuk de Jong's well-taken opener, before Lucas Ocampos' spot-kick – which he won – just before half-time earned Sevilla a deserved point.

With Atletico chasing a late win, the previously lively Joao Felix was taken off for former Sevilla winger Vitolo in the 80th minute, and the home fans seemed unimpressed by the alteration.

But Simeone stressed he felt it to be a necessary decision.

"We can't tell people that he felt overloaded in his calf," Simeone told reporters when asked to address the whistles that accompanied his withdrawal.

"The doctor told me to be careful with Joao because he was getting cramps, that's why the change came.

"That he scored a goal to make the people happy is normal, because he's from Atletico."

VAR attracted much attention during the match, as the two penalties came after lengthy reviews – Simeone felt the outcome of both incidents was fair.

"It ends up being more fair than unfair," he said. "I am far away from the play of the first penalty and very far for the second, so I cannot enter a summary.

"I don't think that the defining factor of the match was the VAR. It has been a good duel with two teams fighting for very high goals.

"We were two teams that have competed very well, and that will surely compete until the end for the Champions League [places]."

Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui was less impressed by the use of VAR, however, particularly in terms of how long it took for the final decisions to be communicated.

"I believe that the VAR should intervene when situations are white or black," he added. "If you are waiting three minutes to see if you are going to review the decision or not, then that play is not very clear.

"There are many browns [rather than black or white] in football. That is what I meant. It should only intervene when it is black or white, because it cannot take so long, also because of the rhythm of the match, it stops too much.

"It was a very nice match. He [the referee] can't stand around for four or five minutes."

Diego Simeone is convinced Joao Felix "can go far if he wants to" despite struggling in his first season at Atletico Madrid.

Joao Felix became Atletico's record signing when he arrived from Benfica for €126million in pre-season, coming in as Antoine Griezmann's replacement.

But the Portugal international's impact has not been as significant as expected, scoring just three goals in 19 LaLiga appearances, having also missed a chunk of the season through injury.

Atletico face a fight to qualify for a Champions League spot, as they sit fifth behind Getafe and Sevilla – their visitors on Saturday – in the battle for a top-four place.

Simeone remains a believer in Joao Felix's abilities and potential ahead of a crunch clash with Sevilla on Saturday.

"He started with great enthusiasm," Simeone told reporters on Friday. "He had two injuries that took him out of that continuity.

"He is looking for that continuity in the team again, that continuity we all need and expect from him.

"Hopefully he gets to where he suggested he could, because in the case of young boys it is a consequence of where one wants to go. If he wants to go far, he can."

Like Joao Felix, Diego Costa has also recently returned to fitness and could play a significant role in the final weeks of the season, with Simeone optimistic about the striker's condition.

"I see him growing, looking for his best state, training accordingly to want to improve," the Atleti coach continued.

"He was never a great header, his game was more direct, more vertical, more positional. He felt comfortable in the game [against Espanyol].

"I see him [getting] better. He could not show all this the other day, but it is a phase of his recovery and we can count on him."

The visit of Sevilla comes just four days before Atletico's Champions League last-16 second-leg clash with Liverpool at Anfield, where Los Colchoneros will start with a 1-0 lead.

But Simeone insists his one and only focus is the Sevilla match, knowing victory will move them back into the top four and above Julen Lopetegui's erratic side.

"We do not look five days ahead, only Sevilla," he said. "We have the need to make an important match. Sevilla is strong away from home, signed new players [in January] like Suso that give quality in attack.

"The importance of the match is clear. Sevilla is a dangerous team away from home - they move better with spaces for their fast players in attack. That's where they perform their game best.

"Both matches are important - we are excited. It's a football week, in which we prepare to reach important targets. We have a beautiful battle ahead."

Saul Niguez accepts Atletico Madrid need to find a way to resolve their issues away from home after drawing 1-1 at rock-bottom Espanyol in LaLiga on Sunday.

Saul equalised with a stunning strike at the start of the second half after an early Stefan Savic own goal had put Espanyol in front.

Jan Oblak tipped a Victor Sanchez strike against the crossbar with a fine save to ensure Atletico secured a point.

The result means Atletico have won just one of their past 10 away matches in the league, leaving them well behind Barcelona and Real Madrid, and Niguez says they must raise their game on the road.

"It's taking a lot this year to win away from home," he told Movistar. "The support of our fans at home shows a lot.

"We must learn. The days go by and we must learn that many points can be gathered away from home."

Diego Simeone also addressed Atletico's poor away form, though he seemed relaxed and confident they will turn it around.

"We have to win away from home," he said. "We care about the game we have in the Wanda Metropolitano and then we will take care of winning the games that we have away from home.

"When the matches start, we try to win three points. In these last matches [against Valencia, Granada, Villarreal and Espanyol], we have won two and drawn two.

"We are giving the maximum - we hope it will catch up with us. To enter Champions League or save yourself [from relegation], you need to give everything to compete."

Diego Simeone was happy with the way Atletico Madrid stuck together following a tough January, claiming all teams have to weather difficult periods.

Atleti endured a five-match winless run in all competitions between January 12 and February 1, a stretch that was bookended by derby defeats to Real Madrid.

However, Simeone remained in charge and his side are unbeaten in four since, enjoying three victories - including a 1-0 defeat of Liverpool in their Champions League last-16 first leg.

The Atleti coach was not looking for excuses as he reflected on the team's previous struggles on Saturday, although he suggested such spells were to be expected.

"When you are planning a new season, you know there might be difficult and complex times like the ones we've been through," Simeone told a news conference ahead of Sunday's clash with Espanyol.

"For every team, there is a different part of the season where, because of injuries or bad results, they are in a difficult moment.

"I know it is just a phase of the season. We have to keep the balance and strength, be patient and hold together during those bad moments."

This week's opponents Espanyol are bottom of LaLiga, but Simeone is expecting a tough test for fourth-place Atleti.

"We are fighting for different objectives but a victory is important for both teams," he said. "When it comes to this part of the season, the needs are very important for both teams.

"I know it will be an intense, hard match, with a lot of contact in the midfield. The little details will decide which way the match goes."

Atleti's game is not the only clash between sides from Madrid and Barcelona this weekend, with El Clasico kicking off five hours later on Sunday.

However, with both Madrid and Barcelona well clear of third place, Simeone insists he has no interest in the match as his sole focus is on Espanyol.

"I don't even think about it," he said. "We're only thinking about our game against Espanyol and about our job, which is La Liga and getting the points we need."

Atletico Madrid captain Koke said Joao Felix can fulfil his enormous potential if he listens to Diego Simeone and his team-mates after making a goalscoring return from injury.

Joao Felix had been sidelined since January due to a muscle injury but Atletico's record signing came off the bench and scored in Sunday's 3-1 LaLiga victory over Villarreal.

The 20-year-old attacker arrived from Benfica in a €126million deal at the start of the season and has scored five goals across all competitions.

"Everyone can see what is expected of Joao, he's a young boy and he has lots of room for improvement," Koke said post-match.

"Many great players have had to adapt to Atletico and it's not easy, he's young.

"If he listens to the boss and his team-mates, he will be the player that everyone wants to see.

"He's not been lucky with injuries, but I'm sure that, in the future, we'll see the Joao we want to see."

Atletico came from behind in the Spanish capital, where Simeone's side trailed to Paco Alcacer's 16th-minute opener at Wanda Metropolitano.

Angel Correa, Koke and Joao Felix led the comeback as Atletico moved up to third in LaLiga, behind leaders Barcelona and city rivals Real Madrid.

"Speaking about Koke, our captain, our talisman and one of our longest-serving players [with] Saul [Niguez], [Jose] Gimenez, Thomas [Partey]," Simeone said.

"He knows what we're looking for, a tactical condition that lots of players don't have and a pass that seems slow but he knows where he is.

"He can play on the right, in the middle. He and Saul are the ones who can play in any position."

Simeone paired Correa with Alvaro Morata up front and the Atletico head coach added: "The two worked very well, they have lots of strength in their feet to go out and press people. Morata did a very good job and Correa is in fantastic form. We're very happy with the competition for places.

"The return of [Kieran] Trippier, Joao Felix... [Yannick] Carrasco is getting better, [Sime Vrsaljko] is very strong, Vitolo had a great game and the substitutes brought fresh legs."

Atletico Madrid came from behind to beat Villarreal 3-1 and move into third place in LaLiga, with Joao Felix scoring on his return from injury.

Suspended head coach Diego Simeone watched on from the stands as his players took full advantage of Getafe's 3-0 home defeat to Sevilla earlier on Sunday.

Goals from Angel Correa and Koke turned the game in Atletico's favour at the Wanda Metropolitano, cancelling out Paco Alcacer's first-half opener for the visitors.

A satisfying outing for the hosts was rounded off by a goal from Joao Felix, who found the net just 17 minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Fresh from a Champions League win over Liverpool in midweek, Atletico dominated the opening 15 minutes but were powerless to stop Alcacer's rasping half-volley from the edge of the box, the attempt flying into the net beyond Jan Oblak at full stretch.

Villarreal goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo made a superb double save to keep out a fierce volley from Alvaro Morata at first, followed by Vitolo's header from the rebound.

The visitors rediscovered their composure until the 40th minute when Raul Albiol inexplicably headed the ball to the feet of Sime Vrsaljko, allowing the full-back to lift the ball towards Correa, who poked a volley under the body of Asenjo to pull the hosts level.

Atletico sent on Kieran Trippier and Joao Felix – the duo back in action after recovering from injuries - to try and exploit the gaps appearing in the Villarreal defence, with both players making an impact.

Trippier broke down the Atletico right before cutting the ball back to Correa, whose floated cross was headed home by Koke after the captain arrived unmarked on the edge of the six-yard box.

Joao Felix wrapped up the victory, albeit his drive was aided by a deflection to beat Asenjo, as the 20-year-old scored his third league goal of an up-and-down debut campaign in Spain.

Diego Simeone sees no problem with Atletico Madrid's players celebrating their victory over Liverpool, though insisted he has not let his squad get carried away.

Atleti will take a 1-0 lead back to Anfield after Saul Niguez's early goal gave them a win in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie against the Premier League leaders and defending European champions.

Clips were subsequently shared on social media following Atleti's win of their players celebrating the triumph during a recovery session.

This is no issue for Simeone, though the Argentinian – whose side sit fifth in LaLiga ahead of Sunday's clash with Villarreal – left little doubt that his team must keep their feet on the ground.

"I have always said that extremes are bad," Simeone told a news conference when asked about the criticism Atleti had received for celebrating their win, with Liverpool defender Andy Robertson having suggested the Spanish side were acting as if they had already won the tie.

"There are no extremes in the locker room. We have seen that people lived with the negative results and when we see positive results the opposite happens.

"But we know that LaLiga is long, that the Champions League is very hard and the balance is in maintaining consistency.

"In the same way that I am saddened by defeats, we must celebrate the victories. Liverpool was a first half. The second one remains."

Joao Felix has been included in the squad for Sunday's match and Simeone is thrilled to be able to have his record signing back in the group.

"What excites me is that they are all in the squad. That generates internal competition," Simeone said.

"When Joao Felix and [Diego] Costa have been away, [Angel] Correa and Vitolo played and this generated a lot of internal competition.

"It also happened with [Jose] Gimenez and [Stefan] Savic, with Felipe and [Mario] Hermoso. This internal competition generates growth and improvement."

Diego Simeone was in awe of the way the Atletico Madrid supporters welcomed the arrival of Liverpool at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday and felt it proved key to their victory.

Supporters lined the streets outside the stadium, lit flares and chanted at great volume as the European and world champions' bus arrived for the first leg of the Champions League last-16 tie.

Atleti had won just once in seven matches in all competitions heading into the game but Simeone's side upset the odds, scoring early through Saul Niguez and holding on for a 1-0 lead to take to Anfield.

"We started winning on the roundabout next to the stadium," Simeone told Movistar. "In eight years, I've never seen a reception like that."

He added in his press conference: "[The atmosphere] was exciting, it makes you want to play. The team responded with great effort, as they did in Valencia.

"It was not [the best night] because we didn't get a title, but there are nights you don't forget and this was one of them.

"The best team in the world comes after a lot of wins and you beat them."

Simeone had talked up the Wanda atmosphere prior to the match as he recognised the need to get a result before travelling to Anfield, where Liverpool have not lost in any competition since September 2018.

Anticipating a similar mood on Merseyside, the Atleti boss expects a tricky encounter.

"We're going to play with a lot of humility, because they are accustomed to playing massive games in their stadium," he said.

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