Diego Simeone accepted Atletico Madrid have to improve defensively after shipping four goals to Barcelona, but suggested Sunday's loss was equally down to his side's lack of cutting edge.

Atletico let an early lead slip as they lost 4-2 in a thrilling game at Camp Nou and dropped to fifth in LaLiga, two points behind opponents Barca in the final Champions League spot.

The reigning Spanish champions have now conceded 30 goals in 22 top-flight matches this season, which is already five more than in 38 matches last term.

It is just the third time Atleti have conceded four or more goals under Simeone in the league, with the first such occasion coming in December 2012 in a 4-1 loss to Barcelona.

Normally famed for their defensive solidity, Simeone admitted his side have not been good enough at the back this season.

"We've been defending well for 10 years but this year we have to improve. We don't have the necessary focus on defensive actions," he said.

"We haven't changed many players, except for [Kieran] Trippier, who left. They are playing the same ones that last year responded at a high level. 

"[Jose Maria] Gimenez and [Stefan] Savic have missed several games, but this time they played and we conceded four. 

"What counts is to work, try to improve and face the week with humility and push until the end."

 

Yannick Carrasco gave Atleti an early lead, but Jordi Alba's excellent volley, Gavi's header and a Ronald Araujo strike put Barca in control by half-time.

Dani Alves blasted in a fourth before later being sent off, at which point Luis Suarez had pulled one back against his former club, but Atletico's fightback ended there.

Simeone's side ended the match with an expected goals (xG) value of 1.21, compared to just 0.63 for Barcelona.

Indeed, that 3.37 differential between xG and actual goals scored is the biggest in a single LaLiga game this season of any team.

"I look at games in terms of scoring situations," Simeone said. "In the first half, Barca had four chances and scored three times; Atletico had four chances and scored once.

"The forcefulness of a side guarantees everything. Barca's forcefulness prevailed in the end.

"We started well, controlling possession and creating space for the forward players, who had chances. But beyond possession and counter-attacks, the most forceful team wins.

"In the second half we became more aggressive and intense. At 4-2 there was a feeling we could get into the game, but Barca defended low and we had fewer opportunities."

In a further blow for Simeone, it was confirmed after the game that new signing Daniel Wass suffered a torsion in his right knee and will undergo further tests on Monday.

On a day to forget for Atletico all-round, centre-back Savic – whose five interceptions was more than double that of any other player on the field – urged his team-mates to quickly pick themselves up.

"There is a lot of the season left and we are going to fight. We're worried about conceding so many goals, the number of them. Now we can only work and raise our heads," he told Movistar Plus.

"We wait to be behind to start playing. I don't know if it's a mental issue, but we have to change it if we want to be in the Champions League next year.

"Sometimes you work and things don't work out. We must keep going."

Diego Simeone believes Joao Felix was unfortunate to be sent off in Atletico Madrid's draw with Athletic Bilbao, suggesting no one else would have seen red in similar circumstances. 

Atletico slumped to a third successive home draw across all competitions for the first time since October 2019, as Athletic frustrated them in a 0-0 stalemate. 

The visitors created the better chances, their accumulative xG total of 1.2 coming from six shots whereas Atletico recorded 1.1 from 14 attempts, though Marcelino Garcia Toral's men wasted two glorious opportunities. 

Simeone's side were not helped by the dismissal of Joao Felix for two bookings in quick succession 12 minutes from time, the Portugal international first shown a yellow card for catching his marker with a flailing arm and then his protests earned him another, resulting in a red card. 

Joao Felix's reaction included a gesture that most people would consider was questioning the referee's sanity as he pointed to his head, but Simeone seemingly thought official Jesus Gil Manzano's decision to send the forward off was harsh. 

"I did the same thing a lot of times," the former Argentina midfielder told reporters. "I was not in line with what I should have done, but as I grew older I corrected that. 

"I'm close to Joao and I don't care about this episode. If that gesture is made by someone else, he probably wouldn't be sent off. The referee doesn't react in the same way. 

"There were a lot of yellow cards. It's necessary to look for the sensitivity of the moment of the yellow cards – sometimes players have to talk [to the referee] during the game. It's not a yellow for asking a question. 

"Gil Manzano told me not to tell him to be calm when he was calm... He's a great referee, he has had very good performances for us last season, but the sensitivity depending on the day generates different feelings." 

 

While Simeone was somewhat magnanimous regarding Gil Manzano, Stefan Savic was clearly perturbed by the officiating of the referee, who was also in charge in April when Sevilla beat Atletico 1-0 thanks to a Marcos Acuna goal that was allowed to stand after a handball in the build-up was deemed accidental. 

Atletico ended Saturday's game with four players on a yellow card and Joao Felix having been dismissed – that took them to 20 from just five games, five more than any other team and Savic is baffled. 

"We are calm, but we don't know what's happening. We're unlucky or this is crazy," Savic added. "We have to look ahead. 

"We must think about the things that we can influence, but it cannot be that they [officials] give 15 [20] cards to us. 

"We're not the only ones who protest in a match. The tempo rises, the tension rises – there are hot heads, and you have to understand that. 

"Everyone must understand that it's not the same to speak with a cool head, as during the match your adrenaline rises. 

"You cannot speak with Gil Manzano. We told him that he can't draw a card for each word that's said, so it's better to not say anything [about the referee]." 

Atletico Madrid centre-back Stefan Savic has signed a new deal with the Spanish champions, agreeing to extend his stay with the club until June 2024.

Montenegro international Savic has spent the past six seasons with Atletico and played a big part in last term's LaLiga title triumph.

The defender featured 42 times in all competitions in 2020-21 and started 33 of Atleti's 38 league games as Diego Simeone's squad won the title for the second time in seven years.

Atletico kept a clean sheet in 16 of those matches and won 24 of them for a win rate of 72.7 per cent, compared to 40 per cent in the five games Savic did not play a part in.

 

Since making his LaLiga debut in August 2015, no defender has helped their side to more clean sheets in the division than the 30-year-old (72), with Barcelona's Jordi Alba (68) next on the list.

Los Colchoneros confirmed news of Savic's new deal on their official website on Wednesday, four days before they begin their title defence away at Celta Vigo.

Savic, who has also won the Europa League and the Super Cup with Atleti, was previously under contract until 2023.

Atletico Madrid defender Stefan Savic will have to serve a four-game ban from UEFA club fixtures as punishment for his dismissal for violent conduct against Chelsea.

Savic was shown a straight red card after an incident involving Chelsea's Antonio Rudiger in the second leg of the Champions League last-16 tie at Stamford Bridge on March 17.

The Montenegro international has been disciplined by UEFA for "assaulting another player", as well as "directing abusive language at a match official".

Diego Simeone also received a warning over a late kick-off to the fixture, while the club itself received a €10,000 fine. Atleti were also ordered to pay a further €14,000 for "improper conduct of the team".

Atletico lost 2-0 on English soil – Hakim Ziyech and Emerson Palmieri scoring the goals – as the LaLiga side exited the competition 3-0 on aggregate.

Savic started all eight of his team's Champions League outings in 2020-21, with the dismissal against the Blues his third in the competition.

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