Real Madrid get more penalties than other teams because they attack more, according to Atletico Madrid boss Simeone.

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique and club president Josep Maria Bartomeu have suggested Madrid, who sit four points clear of the Catalan giants at the top of LaLiga, are benefiting from favourable decisions from referees.

Zinedine Zidane said has was "tired" of hearing such comments after his side beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Sunday, the second straight game they have won courtesy of a Sergio Ramos penalty, which was awarded after a VAR review spotted Dani Garcia's trip on Marcelo.

Iker Muniain was critical of the officials after the match because Athletic did not receive a spot-kick for Ramos appearing to step on Raul Garcia's foot off the ball or for another incident involving the Madrid captain and Dani Garcia.

Madrid have been awarded nine penalties in LaLiga this season – only Athletic and Real Mallorca have earned more (10 each) – and Simeone thinks it is natural for a team that plays on the front foot to get such decisions.

"VAR exposes everything. Before we didn't have the possibility of seeing some things that we now see. The referees are people who can be wrong as well," Simeone told a news conference.

"It is fairer. If they give you more penalties, it's because you are in the opposition's area more. If they attack more, like Real Madrid, it means you are there longer.

"In the speed of the game it's difficult to see what happens, but now another referee sees it with calmness on television. People too, from their homes.

"Then there is a person who decides, which is the VAR. It can hurt you or help you, but now we are all clear on if its offside, if it's a penalty… we are all more exposed."

Atleti face Celta Vigo on Tuesday and will be without Joao Felix due to an ankle injury.

Joao Felix has scored eight goals and supplied three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions since joining from Benfica for €126million last year.

Simeone intends to remain patient with the 20-year-old Portugal international when he is available for action again.

"Joao is in his first year at Atletico. I am not surprised by anything that is happening to him," said the Atleti boss.

"He has to be patient and not disengage. The anger he has because of what he wants to show, because of his qualities, sometimes costs him.

"Few footballers at 20 or 21 are the finished article. He has undoubted talent. He's a humble, respectful boy who gets along with everybody."

Joao Felix has been ruled out of Atletico Madrid's LaLiga game against Celta Vigo on Tuesday due to an ankle injury.

Portugal forward Joao Felix was substituted in the 54th minute of Atletico's 3-0 victory over Real Mallorca on Friday

Tests carried out on Sunday revealed the 20-year-old has suffered "a traumatic bone edema in the ankle", the club said in a statement on Monday.

Although it was confirmed Joao Felix will miss the trip to Balaidos to face Celta, Atleti did not provide a time frame for his recovery.

Joao Felix has struggled to live up to expectations in his first season with Atleti, who shelled out €126million to sign him from Benfica last year.

He has scored eight goals and supplied three assists in 34 appearances in all competitions.

The attacker has already missed 10 games due to two separate injuries this term and one more through suspension.

Bayer Leverkusen star Kai Havertz has been tipped to leave the Bundesliga outfit at the end of the season.

Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester United, Bayern Munich and Real Madrid are among the possible destinations.

Havertz's future could become a lot clearer following Leverkusen's 4-2 defeat to Bayern in the DFB-Pokal decider.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA BOOSTED BY HAVERTZ NEWS

Kai Havertz wants to meet with Bayer Leverkusen to discuss his future after the DFB-Pokal final loss to Bayern Munich, according to Bild journalist Christian Falk.

Havertz scored a consolation goal as Leverkusen went down 4-2 to Bayern in Berlin on Saturday.

Chelsea are interested in Havertz, Real Madrid are hesitant about signing the Germany international in 2020, while Bayern are not prepared to make a bid this year.

Liverpool, Barcelona and Manchester United have also been linked.

 

ROUND-UP

- Falk also claims Bayern star Thiago Alcantara could join Liverpool or United. Bayern are braced for Thiago to leave at the end of the season and the Spanish midfielder has been tipped to move to Premier League champions Liverpool. However, United are also reportedly interested.

United, Arsenal, Napoli and Atletico Madrid are among the teams eyeing a cut-price deal for Madrid outcast James Rodriguez, says Marca. Everton and Wolves have also been mentioned as suitors.

- According to the Daily Mail, Arsenal are desperate to sign Atletico midfielder Thomas Partey, so much so they are prepared to sell either Matteo GuendouziAlexandre Lacazette or Lucas Torreira to fund the transfer.

- Gazzetta journalist Nicolo Schirra reports Sporting CP are in advanced negotiations to extend Joelson Fernandes' contract. The Portuguese side are looking to increase the 17-year-old's release clause from €45million to €100m amid interest from Barca, Arsenal, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig.

Paris Saint-Germain are eyeing Monaco full-back Djibril Sidibe, Foot Mercato claims. The Ligue 1 champions are looking to sign a right-back after Thomas Meunier left for Dortmund.

- Madrid forward Luka Jovic remains Milan's first choice to replace Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Calciomercato says. Milan are ready to meet Jovic's agent as they look to pair the Serbia international with former Eintracht Frankfurt team-mate Ante Rebic at San Siro. Patrik Schick – who spent the season on loan at Leipzig from Roma – is another option should Milan fail to land Jovic.

Inter prefer David Alaba over Chelsea full-back Emerson Palmieri and have already met the Bayern star twice, according to SportMediaset. Alaba has also been linked to Chelsea, PSG, Madrid and Manchester City.

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.

Alvaro Morata scored twice as Atletico Madrid maintained their unbeaten run since the resumption of LaLiga, easing to a 3-0 victory over Real Mallorca at the Wanda Metropolitano. 

Diego Simeone's in-form side followed up Tuesday's impressive performance in the 2-2 draw at Barcelona by brushing aside relegation-threatened opponents, in the process strengthening their position inside the top four. 

Morata made the most of Mallorca players encroaching too soon into the penalty area to score his first from the spot, VAR giving him a reprieve after Manolo Reina had saved his initial effort. 

Mallorca’s captain guessed correctly with the re-taken spot-kick too, yet Morata had enough height on his strike to beat the goalkeeper and move into double figures for league goals this season. 

The striker had missed an earlier opening as Aleti started impressively, while both Yannick Carrasco and Joao Felix failed to hit the target with excellent opportunities before the opener arrived in the 29th minute.  

Mallorca had thrashed nearest rivals Celta Vigo 5-1 at home in midweek and had their moments in attack before the break, Takefusa Kubo looking particularly bright.

However, any hope of the visitors claiming a bonus in the capital disappeared when Atleti doubled their advantage in added time at the end of the first half, the excellent Marcos Llorente - lining up on the right wing - crossing low for Morata to tap in at the back post.

Scoring just prior to the break allowed Atleti to coast through the second half, though they did add to their tally. 

Captain Koke seized on a weak clearing header to get away a strike that took a heavy deflection off Antonio Raillo, wrong-footing the helpless Reina.


What does it mean? From Atleti-low to riding high

It is now five wins and two draws for Simeone's squad since they returned to action in the middle of June, a run of form that has eased concerns about finishing outside the Champions League places.

His decision to use Llorente - viewed more as a holding midfielder when he signed from Real Madrid –  in an advanced position has been a masterstroke, with the 25-year-old catching the eye again out wide having also played recently as a secondary striker.

While the surge comes too late to mount a title challenge, things are looking up for Atletico. That is not the case for 18th-placed Mallorca, though, as they now have just four games left to try and retain their top-flight status.

Marcos makes his mark 

Morata will take the headlines with his first-half brace, yet Llorente produced the eye-catching performance. He completed over 93 per cent of his attempted passes and created two opportunities.

Little to celebrate for Joao Felix

It has been a testing first season at Atleti for Joao Felix. On the one-year anniversary of his big-money move from Benfica, the Portuguese forward fluffed his lines in front of goal, failing to hit the target with his three attempts before being replaced after just 54 minutes.

What's next? 

Atleti take on another team in relegation trouble on Tuesday, heading on the road to face Celta Vigo. Mallorca, meanwhile, have extra time to recover before they host Levante on Thursday.

The unique competition between the Champions League last eight in August is likely to produce a surprise winner, according to Abel Xavier.

Former Portugal international Xavier is thrilled the country's capital city of Lisbon will host one-off matches from the quarter-final stage onwards as the competition ends with a mini-tournament.

Atalanta and RB Leipzig are among the teams already to have secured their place in the last eight, along with Paris Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid.

Lyon and Napoli are hoping to upset Juventus and Barcelona respectively when the last-16 stage is concluded, while Bayern Munich and Manchester City – who lead their own ties – are rated as favourites to win the competition.

But Xavier feels the unique format and environment could benefit the sides who are not used to playing in the final stages.

"Yes, I think from my analysis of what I've seen with surprising results that have been happening in the [domestic] leagues, there is an extra buzz with the top teams because of the fans," Xavier said to Stats Perform News.

"There is a moment where fans give a buzz to the top teams. I think there is going to be a surprise in this last stage. 

"There are teams who are in the group and they can surprise because the teams are more exposed. 

"The teams who aren't used to being in this stage, they are more strong mentally because they play more freely, they play more open and the gap [in quality] will reduce, making games more competitive.

"For that reason, I honestly believe that it is going to be difficult and there will be a surprise in the end."

Xavier hopes the Champions League conclusion will be a fitting reward for those who have worked hardest during the coronavirus pandemic.

The former Liverpool defender added: "It's a completely different environment because of the pandemic situation and everybody readjusts. There is sporting reasons and also economic reasons.

"When you're looking at the leagues and what options they have to play and finish the leagues, there are a few countries that have decided to not continue playing, repeating the health issues.

"They for me are the priority - before football comes health. Of course, everyone must be protected and safe. 

"Portugal is one of the countries that has managed the [COVID-19] crisis very well. I think when you look at the impact, now things are becoming better, I think it's a safe place [to play football]. 

"For that reason, I believe that the opportunity to receive the eight best teams and play this kind of format in Lisbon is also a way to appreciate and say thanks for all those who made these events possible. 

"We are talking about people who work in health, hospitals because we are talking about health matters. If you are not safe you cannot have football either. 

"For that reason, I think Portugal, if things keep going the same way [with COVID-19], the teams will come here and it's going to be a great competition in a positive way.

"It's also going to attract a very positive image in Portugal because when you look back, Portugal was able to organise the big events in the best way possible. 

"For that reason, I think the final stages will be possible and I hope we can have a percentage of the public in the stadium, that would also be an upgrade if things [with COVID-19] stay like this with safety."

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."

Antoine Griezmann has become "a caricature of himself" at Barcelona, where his former Real Sociedad boss feels a toxic environment is taking its toll.

Quique Setien has named Griezmann on the bench for three of Barca's past four games, including important meetings with top-four hopefuls Sevilla and Atletico Madrid.

The World Cup winner was not sent on until the 90th minute against Atletico on Tuesday, with Ansu Fati introduced ahead of him in the 2-2 draw at Camp Nou.

Barca will fall four points behind Real Madrid with five games remaining if LaLiga's leaders beat Getafe on Thursday, with reports suggesting Setien has lost the backing of his players.

Martin Lasarte, who handed Griezmann his professional debut as an 18-year-old in the Segunda Division with La Real, believes the atmosphere at Barca is having a negative effect on the France star's adaptation to the team.

"What you see of Griezmann is like a caricature of himself. I see him sad, with his head down, running without much sense," Lasarte told Radio Marca.

"The coach has every right to make changes whenever he wants but I do not feel the other night [against Atletico] helped Griezmann's psychological situation.

"When things don't go well for a player, the coach should be there to support and help. Of course, Antoine will have his responsibility but there is an environment that does not help him to succeed.

"It would have been better if he had gone to Barca a year earlier. I have the feeling that when he said he was staying at Atletico something broke with the Barca dressing room."

Barca sacked Ernesto Valverde when they were top of the league in January and Lasarte thinks that sapped the momentum Griezmann was starting to build.

"Griezmann may have had a hard time adapting at first but then I felt he improved in December and January. Now he conveys a sad, down feeling," he said.

"The truth is I don't know if the change of coach at Barca was the most successful, it has not given the feeling of having improved much.

"That surely has also influenced Griezmann's situation."

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."

Sergio Busquets conceded Barcelona face an uphill battle to retain their LaLiga crown after a 2-2 draw with Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

Lionel Messi scored his 700th goal but it was not enough for Barca to claim all three points at Camp Nou, where Saul Niguez scored two penalties to earn Atleti a share of the spoils.

The draw leaves Barca one point behind leaders Real Madrid, who could move four clear with a win over Getafe on Thursday.

There are five games remaining for Barca to turn things around, but midfielder Busquets acknowledged their fate may well now be out of their hands.

"Look, to fight for the title is really complicated if you're dropping two points each two games, but we're going to keep fighting until the end," the Spain international told Movistar.

"We know it's difficult but we're going to try. They're a difficult rival. We dominated and created chances but the two penalties, penalised us – it's been a real shame.

"We were leaders and in a perfect situation before the break. I think it's been difficult for us since – some matches we've played better, others we haven't.

"Dropping points today and at the weekend means we're a little bit further away from our goal, which is to retain the title. I think we played better today but it's a difficult task ahead of us."

Diego Costa's own goal from Messi's corner put Barcelona ahead, before Saul hauled Atleti level from 12 yards – his goal coming after Costa had seen his penalty saved by Marc-Andre ter Stegen, only for a VAR check to spot the goalkeeper had moved off his line.

Messi chipped home his landmark goal from the penalty spot shortly after half-time, yet Saul kept his composure with his second spot-kick of the match.

Yannick Carrasco won both of Atleti's penalties, and the Belgian – who returned to the club in January following a stint in China – was buoyed by the visitors' resilience.

"We always want to win, but I think the team played well. It's just unfortunate we couldn't get the three points," he said.

"We have to keep working and think about the next game. We were playing against one of the best teams in the world. A point away from home is always positive but we wanted to win.

"It's the attitude which is the most important facet of this team always. After that we can win or lose, but if the attitude is the correct one then the coach is happy. Today wasn't to be but we can be proud of our performance."

Lionel Messi scored the 700th goal of his career but Barcelona were held to a 2-2 draw against Atletico Madrid by a pair of Saul Niguez penalties, damaging their LaLiga title defence.

Barca's all-time leading scorer Messi brought up the milestone at Camp Nou with a brilliant Panenka from the penalty spot as he punished Felipe for sending Nelson Semedo to ground early in the second half.

However, Saul, who first equalised in the opening period after Diego Costa's own goal, powered home from 12 yards for the second time after Semedo caught Yannick Carrasco in the box.

The result provided a boost to Real Madrid, who can open up a four-point advantage at the summit by beating Getafe on Thursday.

Messi appeared to have ended his wait for his landmark goal in the 11th minute, but his corner only beat Jan Oblak due to a deflection off the inside of Costa's leg.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen saved a penalty from Costa after Arturo Vidal tripped Carrasco, only for a VAR review to spot the goalkeeper had strayed off his line. A re-take was ordered and Saul guided the ball into the bottom-right corner.

Messi curled a magnificent attempt from the right corner of the box narrowly wide, before steering a cutback from Jordi Alba outside the left upright and seeing a deflected free-kick turned behind by Oblak before half-time.

Barca regained the lead five minutes after the restart when Messi cheekily chipped home his 700th goal from the penalty spot.

Costa missed the target with a header but Carrasco won another penalty and Saul's spot-kick found the net off the gloves of Ter Stegen.

Vidal was unable to find the target with a pair of decent opportunities as Barca were forced to settle for a draw that will do little to quell the rumours of discontent in the dressing room.

What does it mean? Barca falter again

Quique Setien changed his approach for the visit of Atleti, leaving Antoine Griezmann and Ansu Fati on the bench and playing Riqui Puig behind a front two of Messi and Luis Suarez.

The Blaugrana dominated possession throughout but proved vulnerable on the counter-attack and Setien did not change formation until he introduced Fati in the 85th minute – Griezmann came on five minutes later.

It was too late and Barca have now drawn three of their past four LaLiga fixtures and seen the two-point lead they held when the season was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic evaporate. With five games remaining, Setien needs to turn things around quickly.

Magical Messi not enough

Everything positive for Barca was funnelled through Messi – he had more shots in the first half than the entire Atleti team. After three games without a goal he reached his milestone with class, but Diego Simeone's men were still able to snatch a point.

Costa's miserable outing

After narrowly missing out on connecting with a teasing Carrasco free-kick in the sixth minute, Costa put the ball in the net at the other end. His penalty was poor and he was fortunate VAR offered Atletico a second chance to equalise.

What's next?

Atleti are back in action at home to Real Mallorca on Friday, while Barcelona face a tricky trip to Villarreal on Sunday.

Antoine Griezmann was named on the bench for Barcelona's LaLiga meeting with Atletico Madrid, for whom Joao Felix was left out of the starting line-up.

Quique Setien selected just two regular attackers for the visit of Atleti to Camp Nou on Tuesday, with Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez joining forces in attack as the reigning champions looked to regain top spot from Real Madrid.

Former Atleti forward Griezmann was joined on the bench by Ansu Fati, who was handed a starting berth in the 2-2 draw against Celta Vigo at the weekend.

Holding midfielder Sergio Busquets took the place of Fati following his return from suspension, with the only other change seeing Clement Lenglet replace Samuel Umtiti.

Diego Simeone made five alterations to the team that started a 2-1 win over Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

Joao Felix and Alvaro Morata dropped to the bench, while Koke missed out through suspension. Diego Costa, Marcos Llorente and Yannick Carrasco were drafted into the line-up in their places.

Santiago Arias and Felipe were named in defence, with Kieran Trippier on the bench and Stefan Savic absent due to a ban.

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."

Barcelona's huge LaLiga clash with Atletico Madrid will take place behind closed doors on Tuesday, but the champions have come up with a way for some fans to have a presence in the stands.

The Catalan giants have placed 3,000 personalised shirts on seats behind both goals and in the Lateral stand at Camp Nou as part of its 'We All Play' campaign.

Supporters were able to buy a special edition home jersey with their chosen name and number on to occupy a place in the stadium.

Barca confirmed part of the proceeds will be donated to charitable projects aimed at fighting the spread of coronavirus through its foundation.

A club statement read: "This is unquestionably one of the biggest games left for this final stretch of the season, and the players aren't going to be alone.

"Thanks to the 'We All Play' campaign, 3,000 fans will be able to symbolically 'enter' the stadium in the form of personalised shirts laid out in the terraces.

"Once the game is over, the shirts will be cleaned and disinfected and sent over the course of the following days to the fans' home addresses.

"They will also be emailed a link to a gygaphoto in which they will be able to locate their shirt in the ground as a souvenir of their testimonial 'attendance' of the match."

Barca fell two points adrift of LaLiga leaders Real Madrid at the weekend but have an opportunity to reclaim top spot by beating third-placed Atletico.

Club captain Lionel Messi will reach 700 goals in professional football if he hits the target at Camp Nou.

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."

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