Luis Suarez was hailed as an "extraordinary footballer" by Diego Simeone as the Uruguayan received a rapturous send-off at his final home game for Atletico Madrid.

The 35-year-old Uruguayan, formerly of Ajax, Liverpool and Barcelona, is being released by Atletico at the end of his two-year contract.

His second season has not delivered to the same level as his first, where his 21 league goals drove Atletico to the LaLiga title, and the club see this as an appropriate time to part ways.

Suarez started Sunday's home game against Sevilla, which ended in a 1-1 draw after the visitors snatched a late equaliser.

He could not grab a goal to mark the occasion, after Atletico confirmed prior to kick-off it would be his last game for the club, and Suarez was clearly emotional when substituted midway through the second half.

Head coach Simeone paid tribute, and there was a guard of honour for Suarez and midfielder Hector Herrera after the final whistle, as Atletico's players marked the exits of both players.

Simeone said his chief thought regarding Suarez was "gratitude", after the player who remains the third-highest scorer in Barcelona's history signed off from his stint at the Wanda Metropolitano.

"He came to try to remain at the top, to show how competitive he is," Simeone said. "He helped us, and we helped him to win LaLiga where he was decisive due to his forcefulness. This season, despite not playing the games he would have wanted, he is still the team's top scorer.

"I wish him the best, with absolute gratitude to an extraordinary footballer and to a person who goes beyond a footballer."

Jose Gimenez headed Atletico ahead after 30 minutes against Sevilla, with an 85th-minute leveller from Youssef En-Nesyri enough to secure Champions League football for Sevilla next season, with Atletico having already made sure.

Simeone's third-placed team have been left behind by Real Madrid and Barcelona this season, and he said his players "need to improve, talk and believe in what we believe in to compete well".

He warned that although Atletico have shown they can be competitive against the big two in Spain, the likes of Sevilla, Real Betis and Athletic Bilbao are also in pursuit of the Rojiblancos.

Looking at what comes next, Simeone said it was important to move on from this season and begin afresh.

"Calm down and, as always," he said, "we will be here."

Luis Suarez bowed out with an ovation and a show of emotion as Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 with Sevilla in the striker's final home game for the club.

The 35-year-old Uruguay international will be released at the end of this campaign, it was confirmed on Sunday, with the man whose goals spurred last season's LaLiga title success on the move.

He could not produce any of the old magic this time, with Jose Gimenez scoring Atleti's goal, yet there was the warmest of receptions for Suarez from around the Wanda Metropolitano when he was substituted in the 64th minute. As he sat on the bench, he appeared close to tears.

Out-of-sorts Sevilla were in growing danger of sliding out of the top four next weekend, having for so long been the team that most closely tracked champions Real Madrid, but Youssef En-Nesyri headed an 85th-minute leveller. Now they, like Atletico, are assured of Champions League football next season.

 

Suarez lashed wide from an early half-chance after Atletico snatched possession on the edge of the Sevilla penalty area, and he and Antoine Griezmann both saw efforts blocked.

En-Nesyri got his finish all wrong at the other end after dashing in behind the Atletico defence, skewing well wide of Jan Oblak's goal.

The breakthrough came after 30 minutes when Gimenez stole into a yard of space at the near post and headed Yannick Carrasco's corner from the left across goal and beyond Yassine Bounou.

It was a first LaLiga goal of the season for Gimenez, and a team-high sixth assist for Carrasco.

A flying header from Suarez went a yard wide in the 53rd minute, before Sevilla's Alejandro Gomez saw a deflected strike from outside the penalty area well saved by Oblak.

Rodrigo de Paul had a 20-yard strike tipped over as Atletico sought a second to kill the game, but they were stung instead when En-Nesyri, having hit the crossbar moments earlier, nodded in from a fine cross by Oliver Torres.

Luis Suarez will leave Atletico Madrid at the end of the season after his two-year stay at the Wanda Metropolitano, the LaLiga giants announced on Sunday.

Former Barcelona and Liverpool striker Suarez provided a spark last season that led to LaLiga title glory for Diego Simeone's team.

That was his first campaign with Atletico after Suarez reluctantly moved on from Barcelona, and he finished with 21 goals from 32 league games.

The 35-year-old has not made the same impact this season, albeit still reaching double figures for goals in the Spanish top flight, and his departure had been expected.

Confirmation came when Atletico said ahead of Sunday evening's clash with Sevilla that it would be a final home game for the club for Suarez and Hector Herrera, who in March agreed an end-of-season move to Houston Dynamo.

Atletico said in a statement on Twitter: "At the end of the game, the Wanda Metropolitano will pay tribute to Luis Suarez and Hector Herrera, who are saying goodbye to the Red and White family today."

Club president Enrique Cerezo hailed Suarez's impact on the club, as the Uruguayan veteran nears the end of his two-year contract.

Cerezo said: "Luis Suarez is a magnificent player and a great person. He deserves everything in this club and will always have a very prominent place. In the museum and in any part of this stadium, Luis Suarez will have a very prominent part."

Quoted by AS, Cerezo added: "We will have great memories of him. He has been a magnificent player, he has been one of those who has achieved a Liga."

Suarez was recently linked with a shock return to Barcelona, where he ranks at the third-highest goalscorer in the club's history, behind Lionel Messi and Cesar Rodriguez.

A relieved Diego Simeone credited the work of his players after Atletico Madrid marked his 400th LaLiga game in charge with a 2-0 win away to Elche on Wednesday.

Atleti also secured Champions League qualification with the victory, opening up a six-point gap to fifth-placed Real Betis via goals from Matheus Cunha and Rodrigo de Paul.

In Simeone's 11 years at the club, Atleti have been able to disrupt the hegemony of Barcelona and Real Madrid, winning LaLiga, the Europa League and the UEFA Super Cup twice, as well the Copa del Rey.

Simeone showed humility after the win, saying the support he has at the club is rare, allowing for such an uncommonly long tenure.

"It's an important moment because if it weren't for all the players who have passed through the club it would be impossible," he said post-match. "I am grateful and lucky because the club has always supported me. The back and forth is there, but I thank all the players that were here over this time and allowed me to have this possibility.

"I'm happy for the players, who had an irregular season. We competed very well in the Champions League and in LaLiga we couldn't maintain regularity.

"The goal has already arrived. Deserved, we worked hard and that makes us return to the Champions League for another year. This is very important for the club."

As noted by Simeone, it has been an irregular season by Atleti's notoriously conservative and defensive standards on the pitch.

The 41 goals the Colchoneros have conceded this term in the league make for the most over a full season since he took over as coach in December 2011.

Tensions have simmered in that respect and it was apparent again at the Estadio Manuel Martinez Valero, with Jan Oblak and Renan Lodi sharing a heated exchange before Cunha's opener.

After Wednesday's win, the 52-year-old conceded the defensive decline has been a difficult trade-off for stronger potency in attack, but had no issue with the Oblak and Lodi argument.

"If there are discussions, it's good because the players are in the game and they're alive," he said. "I like this kind of thing because I feel that the players are in the game.

"I think this the year we've scored the most goals since I've been at the club. Also opponents have scored the most on us.

"That's the balance that it cost us to find. We had Savic and Gimenez out, Reinildo did us a lot of good. He works very seriously and with humility. In front of goal we scored a lot of goals"

Atletico Madrid consolidated their Champions League qualification hopes with a 2-0 win at Elche in Diego Simeone's 400th LaLiga game in charge of the club.

Simeone's side battled to a 1-0 victory over rivals Real Madrid on Sunday, and were soon ahead at Estadio Martinez Valero when Matheus Cunha opened the scoring in the first half.

Rodrigo de Paul added a second after the interval and Elche rarely threatened Jan Oblak's goal in response, failing to have a shot on target all game/until the Xth minute.

It mattered little for the boisterous home crowd as Real Mallorca's stalemate at Sevilla on Wednesday confirmed safety for Elche, while Atletico climbed into third – six points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis with two games to go.

Sime Vrsaljko was forced off with injury after just six minutes before Cunha curled a presentable opportunity over in the opening exchanges.

Elche had scored two of their last three league goals from set-pieces and both Lucas Boye and Pedro Bigas headed narrowly off target from corners, but Atleti struck first.

Cunha opened the scoring after 28 minutes when substitute Renan Lodi latched onto Antonio Griezmann's lofted pass to drill across for the Brazil forward to poke home.

Elche fans were in celebratory mood after the interval as news filtered through of Mallorca's stalemate with Sevilla, while Bigas had to clear off the line as Cunha's deflected strike looped goalward.

A slick passing move resulted in Atletico doubling their lead and sealing victory, with De Paul exchanging a quick one-two with Griezmann, who unselfishly squared for the midfielder to tap-in.

Substitute Luis Suarez was denied his 12th goal of the LaLiga season by the offside flag in stoppage time, as Atleti cruised to victory.

What does it mean? Milestone man Simeone continues Elche dominance

Simeone's side eased to their 10th straight LaLiga victory over Elche, who have not defeated Atletico in all competitions since March 2002.

Victory capped a special day for Simeone, who became just the third manager to coach 400 LaLiga games with a single club, winning 244 of those matches across his 11-year spell in the Spanish capital.

Atletico have all but secured Champions League football for next season, with Betis requiring a remarkable turnaround in the last two games to earn a place in the top four.

 

Lovely Lodi

Lodi was named among the substitutes but was soon introduced following the injury to Vrsaljko, and the substitute offered Simeone a timely reminder of his qualities. 

The Brazil international was at his creative best down the left flank, supplying a game-high three chances in a dominant performance against Elche's right-back Helibelton Palacios.

Goalless Griezmann

Griezmann played a vital role in Atletico's goals, delicately chipping to left wing-back Lodi prior to his assist and teeing up De Paul when one-on-one with Edgar Badia, but the France star's woes in front of goal continued at Elche.

The forward has failed to score in his last 13 league appearances, his longest goal drought in a single season in LaLiga since January 2012 (14 – his longest run without scoring in a single season in the top-flight).

What's next?

Atletico can confirm their top-four spot by defeating fourth-placed Sevilla at home on Sunday, while Elche visit Celta Vigo on the same day.

Diego Simeone insists Atletico Madrid still have plenty of work to do if they are to finish in LaLiga's top four and qualify for the Champions League.

Atleti beat fierce rivals Real Madrid 1-0 at Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday to move six points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis with three games to go.

Yannick Carrasco's 40th-minute penalty, awarded for Jesus Vallejo's barge on Matheus Cunha, was enough for Atletico to snap an 11-game winless run in this fixture.

Los Rojiblancos can seal a 10th straight season of Champions League football with three points against Elche on Wednesday, but Simeone is taking nothing for granted.

"There are three games left. Everyone is competing to finish fourth and it will not be easy," he told Movistar. "But of course this is a strong and decisive step for us.

"We played the game we wanted to play. We had many chances but couldn't be forceful and that pushed us to the limit against a rival that improves as the minutes go by."

Atletico hit the post through Carrasco late on and outshot their opponents 16 to 15, but just two of those attempts were on target – one of those being Carrasco's penalty.

Madrid had six shots on target by comparison – only against Cadiz have they tested the opposition goalkeeper more times in LaLiga this season (nine) without scoring.

Jan Oblak has struggled for form this season but produced a number of fine saves to help Atleti to their first ever win over Madrid at Wanda Metropolitano.

Indeed, those six saves are the most he has made in a single LaLiga match this campaign, surpassing the five he registered in March's 3-1 win against Betis.

 

Like head coach Simeone, though, the Atletico goalkeeper is not thinking of Champions League football just yet.

"We're still not sure of that," he said. "Until it's secured then the weight is going to be on us. On Wednesday we have to come out in the best way and get the three points.

"There are three games left, which is a lot. Hopefully we're not made to suffer until the last minutes."

Following their midweek trip to 14th-placed Elche, Atletico host Sevilla and then travel to Real Sociedad on the final day.

Carlo Ancelotti intends to continue rotating his Real Madrid side across their remaining LaLiga matches with all focus on the Champions League final against Liverpool.

Madrid were beaten 1-0 by fierce rivals Atletico Madrid in Sunday's El Derbi after making seven changes from their dramatic midweek European win against Manchester City.

While the likes of Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior were brought on at the second half, Karim Benzema and Thibaut Courtois remained on the bench at Wanda Metropolitano.

Los Blancos have already sealed the title and can afford to chop and change with three more LaLiga outings to come before their May 28 showdown with Liverpool. 

Ancelotti's side host Levante on Thursday and round off their domestic campaign with games against Cadiz and Real Betis.

Asked if he will continue to make changes to his side, the Italian coach told Movistar: "Yeah. Those who played less today will now play on Thursday.

"But the team that plays against Betis will more or less be the team that will play the [Champions League] final. The aim is to reach the final with everyone available.

"We still expect to compete, play with a high intensity and good rhythm. In the second half today the rhythm was good."

 

Madrid's defeat was their first against neighbours Atletico in 12 matches in all competitions in a run stretching back to 2018.

The visitors fired in 15 shots against Atleti, six of which were on target – only against Cadiz have they tested the keeper more times in LaLiga this term without scoring (nine).

Yannick Carrasco's penalty shortly before half-time proved the difference for Atleti, who ended the game with an expected goals (xG) value of 2.33 compared to 1.26 for Madrid.

"It was a good, competitive match," Ancelotti added. "We played much better in the second half and couldn't have asked for more in a match that comes after an exciting week.

"I didn't really expect any more from my side."

Atletico's penalty was awarded two minutes after Jesus Vallejo felled Matheus Cunha in the box, with VAR instructing referee Cesar Soto Grado to check the pitchside monitor.

That was the first spot-kick Los Rojiblancos have scored against Madrid in LaLiga since Diego Forlan converted from 12 yards in March 2010.

Ancelotti was surprisingly not asked about the contentious incident and joked "aren't we talking about the penalty" as he exited his post-match news conference.

Atletico Madrid took advantage of Carlo Ancelotti's decision to rotate as they edged out fierce rivals Real Madrid 1-0 on Sunday to tighten their grip on fourth place in LaLiga.

Four days on from their stunning comeback win over Manchester City in the Champions League semi-finals, Madrid made seven changes for their trip to Wanda Metropolitano.

That told as Madrid, who were crowned Spanish champions last week with four games to spare, fell behind to a 40th-minute Yannick Carrasco penalty that was awarded after a VAR check.

Despite the introduction of Luka Modric and Vinicius Junior, Madrid could not find a leveller in the absence of top scorer Karim Benzema as they fell to a rare El Derbi defeat.

 

Much was made of Atleti's decision to not give Madrid a guard of honour ahead of kick-off in their neighbours' first league outing since sealing a 35th league crown.

The home side were far more fired up for the match and twice went close in the opening eight minutes, with Angel Correa and Carrasco firing wide from good positions.

Carrasco made the breakthrough from the penalty spot before half-time, though, after Matheus Cunha was barged over by Jesus Vallejo just inside the box.

The referee had initially allowed play to continue for a couple of minutes, but he was instructed by the VAR to check the pitchside monitor and reversed his initial decision.

Luka Jovic was denied by Jan Oblak and Casemiro should have done far more with a tame shot that was curled straight at the Atletico keeper as Madrid pushed for a leveller.

Atleti wasted chances of their own as Carrasco fired over and Cunha could not convert past Andriy Lunin when played in by substitute Antoine Griezmann, who also went close.

Carrasco nearly sealed things when hitting the post 14 minutes from time, but his earlier penalty proved enough in the end thanks to another Oblak save to keep out Vinicius and a bad miss from Nacho.

Carlo Ancelotti hopes to continue living a "long honeymoon" at Real Madrid, and said he respects Atletico Madrid despite the fact the club will not give his side receive a guard of honour in Sunday's derby.

Los Blancos celebrated a 35th LaLiga title by hammering Espanyol 4-0 last week before reaching the Champions League final in the most dramatic of circumstances.

Madrid were trailing 1-0 on the night and 5-3 on aggregate before substitute Rodrygo scored twice in injury time, dramatic scenes that preceded Karim Benzema scoring the winning penalty in extra time to set up a showpiece with Liverpool in Paris.

Following the win over Espanyol, Ancelotti was pictured smoking a cigar when celebrating with his squad – a photo that went viral on social media.

Asked if he was enjoying a renewed youth in his second spell at Madrid, Ancelotti told a news conference: "You can say that [I am enjoying it more than ever].

"But I really enjoyed my time at Napoli for example, I didn't win titles I enjoyed my time at all the clubs I've managed.

"At Everton I didn't win a title but loved beating Liverpool. Everton are now struggling, we finished quite high up in the table with Everton. 

"Real Madrid is different. You could say, yeah, it's a honeymoon period. I'm still on the honeymoon, a long honeymoon, from December through to May – hopefully the end of May."

Madrid's first league encounter since regaining the title is against the side they deposed at champions in the form at Atleti, who released a statement on Monday saying they will not provide a guard of honour – an act that is commonplace in Spanish football.

Ancelotti has no qualms about the decision, though.

"I'm not used to this because we don't see it in Italy. If they do it then great, if they don't then I still respect the club," he added.

"I have the utmost respect for Atletico Madrid."

Diego Simeone insists Atletico Madrid have "four finals" left to secure Champions League football as they prepare for the derby with Real Madrid on Sunday.

Atletico followed up a goalless draw with Granada by losing 2-0 to Athletic Bilbao last Saturday, allowing fifth-placed Real Betis to move just three points behind Simeone's side.

LaLiga champions Real Madrid secured the title with four games to spare courtesy of a victory over Espanyol last weekend and are up next for Atletico, who have lost their past eight in all competitions against Los Blancos.

Madrid are also on an 11-game unbeaten streak against Atletico in LaLiga, their best such derby run against Simeone as coach, and the Argentine knows the Rojiblancos are in need of a result to ease the pressure.

"The reality is that we are in a decisive situation, there are four finals left," he told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Saturday.

"We will face the derby in the best way, with great enthusiasm and try to evade everything that is being talked about around the situation. What worries us is the result.

"I hope that the team can express itself in the best way, that it is strong, focused, competitive and from there good things happen. If you show yourself strong, in the match everything will be positive."

 

Atletico have already caused a stir prior to kick-off at Wanda Metropolitano by confirming they will not offer Madrid a guard of honour, with their strong response claiming the performative gesture was not required.

Instead, Atletico congratulated their neighbours in a statement and Simeone followed suit by commending the work of Carlo Ancelotti as he questioned the need for the media frenzy surrounding the guard of honour.

"Always in this search for questions they try to generate controversy, what he said, what he feels," he added.

"The reality is what the club said in a statement, explained perfectly, to congratulate Real Madrid above all, to the footballers and to their coaching staff because they have done a great job.

"I have great respect for Madrid, who have just become champions, but we have more respect for our people who are with us all day."

Despite Madrid already lifting the title, Simeone suggested Ancelotti will not make many tactical changes as he prepares for a familiar Los Blancos set-up.

"The structure is not going to change or the way of playing," he continued. "Carlo is a great coach, with very clear ideas. In that case, the names vary but not the tactics."

Amid the furore of Real Madrid's quite astonishing great escape in the Champions League – well, their latest – it's easy to forget they only won the Spanish title last weekend.

Of course, it had been long foreseen, but Madrid's 35th LaLiga crown was secured with their 4-0 win over Espanyol at the Santiago Bernabeu, leading to a party that had Marcelo climbing statues, Carlo Ancelotti smoking a cigar and David Alaba getting his chair out again.

With a record-extending 17th Champions League final appearance wrapped up, Madrid can turn their attention back to LaLiga knowing they still have a reason to keep themselves sharp, and they could yet equal their best points tally (93) since reaching 100 in 2011-12.

Fittingly, their first league match as champions comes against the team they ousted, with bitter rivals Atletico Madrid playing host to Los Blancos at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday.

While that match has taken a back seat over the past few days, in Spain there has been a debate centred on the derby rumbling in the background for some time now.

As champions, Madrid might feel entitled to a pasillo, or 'guard of honour' – but they won't get one.

'A public toll'

While the guard of honour is a tradition with deep roots in sport, there's little doubt that it's a polarising gesture.

A mark of respect, perhaps, but more and more it is seen as a tool of humiliation, particularly when expected in such contests between major rivals.

The decision was down to Atletico's decision makers rather than the players, though captain Jan Oblak made his feelings perfectly clear after their defeat to Athletic Bilbao last weekend.

He said: "As captain, I'm one of those who doesn't like to give or receive the guard of honour, but the club will decide and we'll do whatever is necessary."

Atletico subsequently released a statement on Monday confirming they'll not participate, with their strong response claiming the recent debate was stirred purely to stoke anger between fanbases.

They said: "Some want to turn what was born as a gesture of recognition for the champion into a public toll that their rivals must pay, also impregnated with the aroma of humiliation. Under no concept are Atletico Madrid going to collaborate in this attempt at derision in which the true values ​​of sport are completely forgotten and tension and confrontation between the fans is encouraged."

Additionally, Atletico suggested there was no such debate around Celta Vigo's decision not to give them a guard of honour at the start of this season, with the controversy around the upcoming derby "exaggerated and artificial".

Some might feel Atletico's disdain for the tradition is disrespectful, but there is refreshing sentiment behind their stance as well: not every mark of respect needs to be accompanied by a performative gesture.

In this age of obsessing over social media engagement, there seems a need to turn normal behaviour into a song and dance, the classic example being the tidy changing room photo. "That's class" or "respect [clapping emoji]" litter the replies on Twitter – it's not, it's just common courtesy.

If Atletico players, officials, coaches or fans wish to congratulate Madrid, it doesn't require a forced gesture.

Madrid's refusal

This is by no means the first time Madrid have been involved in guard of honour controversy. Four years ago, the debate around the pasillo was arguably at its zenith.

Barcelona had won the title prior to facing Madrid in El Clasico, meaning there were those in the Blaugrana ranks expecting a show of respect at Camp Nou.

But Madrid refused. Zinedine Zidane, coach at the time, pointed the finger. He suggested they might have reciprocated had Barca given them a guard of honour a few months earlier when Los Blancos won the Club World Cup.

Barca's justification then was that they didn't play in the Club World Cup so didn't need to acknowledge Madrid's success – not that Zidane was buying the excuse.

"It's a lie," he said. "You have to win the Champions League to play in the Club World Cup. I am not the one to decide that we don't want to do the pasillo. They didn't do it, we respect that; we'll not do it because they didn't do it."

Gerard Pique, true to form, found a novel way to get around the issue while simultaneously highlighting Madrid's refusal – he arranged for Barca's coaching staff to give the players a pasillo instead at full-time.

Had Sergio Ramos still been at Madrid, one might have been expecting a similar arrangement for Sunday.

'Party of the champions'

The only other time this century that the pasillo has been such a contentious subject was in 2008, when Madrid did receive one in El Clasico.

The 2007-08 season was a dire one for Barca. Not only did Madrid win the title comfortably with 18 points more than their great rivals, but Frank Rijkaard's men also finished 10 points adrift of second-placed Villarreal.

 

Although Barca crushed Valencia 6-0 leading up to the Clasico clash on May 7, 2008, they were unable to prevent Madrid claiming the title, setting things up perfectly for the ultimate humiliation.

"The party of the champions", read the front page of Madrid-based daily newspaper AS on the morning of the game. Notoriously pro-Madrid Marca went with "Barca is here", accompanying a picture showing where the visitors were due to form their guard of honour. And Catalan publication Sport highlighted the other side of things, saying, "the pasillo that suffers alone", and adding, "Barca fans do not deserve to have to see the pasillo".

Despite the shameless nose-rubbing of the Madrid press and the intense humiliation that was about to befall them, Barca gritted their teeth. "Although it hurts, we will do it," Rijkaard said.

Club captain Carles Puyol sang from a similar hymn sheet: "As an athlete you have to recognise the champion, and we will do that. They have won it on the pitch. Real Madrid have been fair champions."

The emotions of the two coaches that night could not have been more different. Rijkaard slowly ambled out and took his position, hands together behind his back, before the Barca players jogged out and formed two columns either side of the halfway line, the cameras of the Bernabeu crowd incessantly flashing with glee.

Meanwhile, Bernd Schuster watched on as his Madrid side triumphantly walked through that red-and-blue-walled corridor, twenty years after he was a part of the last guard of honour Barca performed in El Clasico, wearing a Blaugrana jersey.

Some, such as Pepe, Fernando Gago and Wesley Sneijder walked straight down the middle, seemingly preserving the thoughts of a true rivalry by refusing to thank their counterparts for the degrading act of a Clasico pasillo, but looking back, that was the least embarrassing part of the whole night for Barca.

What started with a pasillo ended in a pasting, with Barca flattered by a 4-1 defeat in which Madrid were utterly dominant.

Atletico will at least avoid one form of humiliation, but considering the contrasting fortunes of the two teams on the pitch this term, it's hardly a given that Diego Simeone's side will prevent a mauling.

Diego Simeone is ready to accept responsibility if Atletico Madrid fail to qualify for the Champions League.

On the day Atleti saw their LaLiga crown taken by bitter rivals Real Madrid, they suffered a potentially damaging 2-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao at San Mames.

They remained in fourth after the defeat, yet fifth-placed Real Betis can cut the gap to just a point if they overcome Getafe on Monday.

Los Colchoneros face a tough run-in that sees them play champions Madrid, Sevilla and Real Sociedad in three of their four remaining games.

Asked at a media conference if he was worried about not securing a top-four spot, Simeone said: "It occupies me. You have to know how to be in difficult moments and there have been a few in recent years. 

"We will see who is up for this difficult moment. The responsibility rests with me. I am the first one responsible for whether it happens or not.

"Everyone needs to stay calm, there are four games left."

 

Athletic were good value for their win, which came courtesy of an early Mario Hermoso own goal and a second-half penalty from Inaki Williams.

The result meant Atleti have now failed to score in their past two LaLiga games – the first time they have done that since October 2020 when they drew blanks against Huesca and Villarreal.

Simeone had no complaints with his side's effort, though, and said there is no lack of desire to achieve a top-four spot.

"The first few minutes weren't good, then the team improved," he said. "Their first goal hit Hermoso and went in; Carrasco's strike does the same but goes wide. These are the small details that matter.

"If you see how they train, how they work and commit to doing what we say, then there is nothing to say. There is no lack of commitment or intensity.

"There is anxiety and the desire to achieve the goal of the club."

Atleti are next in action on May 8 when they host Los Blancos in El Derbi at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Atletico Madrid missed the chance to strengthen their grip on a Champions League qualification place after they slipped to a 2-0 defeat at Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

On the day Atletico saw their LaLiga crown taken by bitter rivals Real Madrid, Diego Simeone's men started sluggishly and were duly punished inside 10 minutes when Mario Hermoso turned Inaki Williams' cross into his own net.

Williams, who was a constant threat, then sealed all three points in the 56th minute from the penalty spot. 

Atletico remain in fourth, yet fifth-placed Real Betis can cut the gap to just a point if they overcome Getafe on Monday. Athletic, meanwhile, remain eighth.

Athletic's bright start was rewarded in the eighth minute when Hermoso deflected Williams' cross past Jan Oblak after the forward outmuscled Jose Gimenez.

Williams came agonisingly close to scoring for himself soon after, the 27-year-old's inswinging cross from the left missing everyone and bouncing off Oblak's left-hand post.

Geoffrey Kondogbia flashed wide as Atleti woke from their slumber shortly before the interval, while Yannick Carrasco saw an effort deflected just past Unai Simon's upright after a surging run.

Athletic doubled their advantage a few moments after Antoine Griezmann had thundered a free-kick against the crossbar, Williams clipping his spot-kick down the middle after Hector Herrera had brought down Iker Muniain just inside the area. 

Muniain and Nico Williams were denied in quick succession by Oblak as Athletic looked to add further gloss to the scoreline, while Angel Correa saw an effort deflected against the post deep into stoppage time for luckless Atletico.

 

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone backed "one of the best in the world" Antoine Griezmann to return to form, while he offered his support for Luis Suarez amid a lean spell.

Simeone's side sit fourth in LaLiga, four points clear of fifth-placed Real Betis and appear set to secure Champions League qualification.

However, the form of forward Griezmann and the out of favour Suarez has come under scrutiny in the absence of the injured Joao Felix.

Griezmann has just three LaLiga goals in 21 appearances this season, finding the net once every 448 minutes on average, and has not scored in his last eight league games.

But Simeone insists the France international needs just one strike to regain his confidence as Atletico prepare to visit Athletic Bilbao on Saturday.

"Antoine is not converting goals in recent games, his performances have not been what he is accustomed to," Simeone told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Friday.

"He is one of the players with the most goals in the history of Atletico... He always works, he is always committed to the collective work of the team, I have no doubt that he will come out of this situation. 

"It's Griezmann, one of the best in the world, what he needs is to find a goal, which will give him confidence. From that, we will see the Griezmann who we were used to in previous years."

Only Fernando Torres (102 in 281 games) has more goals than Griezmann for Atletico in LaLiga history, the latter scoring 97 times in his 201 appearances for the club.

 

Suarez's form has also been a concern for Simeone, with the Uruguay international limited to appearances from the bench and scoring just twice in his last seven league games (both against Alaves).

The former Liverpool and Barcelona talisman is still Atletico's joint-top scorer this season, his 11 LaLiga goals only matched by Angel Correa, and Simeone hopes Suarez will soon find his feet again.

"I have no doubt that Luis will always score goals, with his team-mates, when he plays, in the Uruguayan team... because he has the ability to score," Simeone added.

"Hopefully if he comes in from the start or comes on in the game, he will make his mark on them. It's what he wants, what he feels, and what he lives off."

Suarez has failed to score in his last five away games against Athletic in the Spanish top flight, having previously netted on his first two visits to San Mames in LaLiga – both in 2015 with Barcelona.

Whether Suarez can regain his confidence against Marcelino's side remains to be seen, but Simeone knows the Basque side will pose a tough task.

"Marcelino is a very good coach, he makes his teams play well and that makes them complex to face," he continued.

"Also, whenever we have faced him he has very good teams, which usually have very good footballers. 

"This means that the matches are tight due to the characteristics of the team that Marcelino creates. I can't imagine a match that isn't tight."

Diego Simeone explained Atletico Madrid's lack of "brilliance" in Wednesday's disappointing draw with Granada was down to fatigue.

Atletico were held to a goalless stalemate by struggling Granada at the Wanda Metropolitano, doing little to improve Los Colchoneros' Champions League qualification hopes.

Although the draw did move them up to second, Barcelona and Sevilla – both a point behind – each have at least one game in hand, while their inability to win ensured Atletico did not take full advantage of fifth-placed Real Betis losing on Tuesday.

Atletico recorded 1.4 expected goals (xG) against Granada but were wasteful in front of goal, hitting the target just once from their 22 attempts.

For Simeone, the explanation was simple.

Asked what was missing for Atletico, Simeone told reporters: "[We needed to] generate more chances to score, especially being more forceful in dangerous situations. Granada defended very well.

"We looked at the different options we had [in attack]. We had the [Manchester] City game, we played after three days against Espanyol and we ended up with one [player] less [Joao Felix], and in another three days we played against Granada.

"It's not an excuse, [but] we lacked brilliance due to the team's fatigue. There are five games left, and game by game we have to fight. Whoever is most engaged will go into the Champions League."

Atletico were frustrated late in the first half when a penalty was not given against Victor Ruiz for a challenge on Antoine Griezmann.

But Simeone opted against putting too much emphasis on that incident, again pointing to his team's recent workload instead.

"I didn't see the Griezmann incident. Apparently there is contact," he continued. "There's the VAR to make decisions, I am just here to improve my team.

"The boys came from making a great effort and they gave everything they had because they came here very tired.

"We lacked a goal, we lacked brilliance – that is achieved when you are fresh."

The Atletico coach gave his 19-year-old son Giuliano his LaLiga debut right at the end, though in typical Simeone fashion, he did not look at the situation with any particular sentimentality.

"I thought of him as being a footballer," the former Argentina international said. "We had one more option [on the bench] as a striker.

"He showed in a few minutes that he has a lot of intensity, aggressiveness."

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