Diego Simeone is full of respect for Ronald Koeman and sympathises with his opposite number's current situation as Atletico Madrid prepare to host Barcelona in LaLiga.

Atletico lost their previous league match against Deportivo Alaves and are aiming to avoid suffering consecutive defeats in the competition for the first time since 2019.

Simeone's side sit in fourth and have won just one of their last 11 top-flight home games against Barca, who are unbeaten in their first LaLiga six matches this term, though there is mounting pressure on head coach Ronald Koeman.

Reports suggest the under-fire Koeman is soon to be relieved of his duties at Camp Nou, but Simeone spoke highly of the Dutchman ahead of Saturday's meeting in the Spanish capital.

"He will surely be in an uncomfortable situation and, on our side, I imagine that all of his colleagues respect him as a coach and he will surely always do well," Simeone told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"I am not the one to value anything. I respect Koeman very much, he has shown personality and I wish him the best. As for the transition, we are very busy with ourselves and we do not worry about what happens on another team.

"We think about the value of the rival players, Barcelona has great footballers, a very good coach with a lot of personality and we focus on doing well ourselves, improving ourselves."

 

The fixture may well signify the end for Koeman, who will be absent from the touchline after his dismissal against Cadiz, but it also sees Luis Suarez go up against his former club once again.

The forward has scored against 30 of the 31 opponents he has faced in LaLiga, with Barca the only side Suarez has failed to find the net against so far.

However, Simeone insisted there was no change in motivation for Suarez, while he also praised the versatility of Antoine Griezmann following his return to the club from Barcelona.

"I see him [Suarez] as always, since he arrived here, with the same hunger, enthusiasm and we try to empower him that the best thing he has is the goal," Simeone said.

"We always put him [Griezmann] where he normally plays. Footballers always have a privileged place, I like to play here.

"The important thing is where the team needs it and Antoine I have no doubt that where we put him, the other day as a midfielder, I am sure he can help us wherever we put him."

Ronald Koeman seemingly accepted that his time as Barcelona head coach is up but has questioned whether his replacement will do a better job with the players available.

Wednesday's 3-0 loss to Benfica – making it back-to-back defeats to begin a Champions League campaign for the first time in Barca's history – has upped the pressure on Koeman.

Amid a run of one win in five matches in all competitions, reports from Spain on Friday suggest this weekend's trip to Atletico will be the Dutchman's last in charge.

Barca president Joan Laporta is said to have made the decision in the wake of the heavy loss in Lisbon and a replacement will reportedly be brought in during the international break.

While Koeman has yet to discuss his future with Laporta, the ex-Netherlands boss admits the reports in the Spanish and Catalan press are telling.

"The club hasn't told me anything, really," he said at a news conference on Friday previewing his side's clash with Atletico. 

"I found out that the president was here this morning but I didn't see him. We were training but I'm still the same. 

"I have ears and eyes and I already know that a lot of things leak. Surely it's true but to me, once again, he has not said anything to me.

"I am not the most important thing, but the team. I am here for the love of the club. I came here during a complicated situation – more complicated than the first day.

"Everyone has their opinion but I am only interested in the players and the Atletico game."

 

Luis Enrique and Roberto Martinez, in charge of Spain and Belgium respectively, ruled themselves out of the running to replace Koeman this week.

A number of other high-profile names have been linked, but Koeman – who saw Lionel Messi depart for Paris Saint-Germain in August – feels the situation will remain the same.

"I don't know if another coach would be able to get more out of this side," he said. "There are a lot of young players here.

"There's been talk about the system, but that's because players are unavailable. There are no wingers. The job of the coach is to work with the players available.

"If I had a bag of money, I would still have Messi here and other players alongside him. If we recover attacking players, we can have a strong and young squad."

Jordi Cruyff, who was appointed as a sporting advisor by Barca in June, is another who has been tipped to succeed Koeman in the coming days or weeks.

"I talk to Jordi every day," Koeman said. "But what we talk about stays between us. From the first day he told me he was not going to take over as the club's coach."

 

Koeman has been under pressure since the end of last season and the 58-year-old has regularly had to defend his position.

"I'm tired of doing that," he said when asked to highlight the work he has done in his 14 months at the helm.

"We have done important things during a period of change. One day I will speak and say what I think."

Asked for his best and worst moments in charge, Koeman said: "It seems I'm out but the best was signing for the club, the worst was Messi's departure."

Koeman's immediate focus is on the match with Atletico, who have beaten Barca just once in their last 11 league meetings in the Spanish capital.

A victory for the Catalan giants would move them above the champions in the table, though Koeman is expecting another tough test.

"We are sides with different styles, but they both lead to winning many things," he said. "They were deservedly champions last season.

"It's difficult to create chances against them. They are great at defending their area and you have to be very good with the last pass. Only by scoring can you beat them."

Young midfielder Pedri and full-back Jordi Alba have both been ruled out of the match through injury.

Barcelona had not lost to Benfica since 1961. They had not started a European season with consecutive defeats since 1972-73. They had last lost back-to-back Champions League group games 21 years ago.

And yet, the most damning thing about their 3-0 defeat in Lisbon on Wednesday was that it wasn't a huge surprise.

By most reasonable football definitions, Barca are in crisis. They have won just three of eight games in all competitions in 2021-22. Spiralling debts of more than €1.2billion meant they could not give Lionel Messi a new contract or conduct any meaningful recruitment, even as club captains took pay cuts.

Those dire financial figures also mean they have a spending cap barely an eighth of the size of Real Madrid's for this season, so January is unlikely to offer much of a chance to change things. And, in Ronald Koeman, they have a coach who appears increasingly out of his depth, unable to inspire his players or maintain much cordiality with the suits above him.

There is speculation that Barca's next game could be his last in charge... and it just happens to be against the champions. How has it come to this?

 

Passive passing

It should be repeated that many of Barca's problems are not of Koeman's making. He was appointed by Josep Maria Bartomeu after the historic ignominy of that 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich, when years of squad mismanagement came home to roost in one horrifying performance. With no money to keep Messi or greatly improve the team, Koeman has been hamstrung in his efforts to build a side capable even of competing for pride, never mind titles.

It's also true that Koeman's system is a mess.

There's a semblance of playing 'the Barca way'. For one thing, they love having the ball: the Catalans average the most possession in LaLiga this season (68.4 per cent), while their average of 4.54 passes per sequence is the highest in the division, and only league leaders Real Madrid (112) have put together more sequences of 10 passes or more than Barca (106). They also press high, restricting opposition teams to just eight passes per defensive action on average, the best figure in the league.

The trouble is, they don't seem to make the most of these positives.

 

Despite ostensibly pressing with intent, their return of 53 high turnovers is only joint-seventh in LaLiga. Despite controlling the ball for the majority of matches, they have only created 55 chances from open play – eight teams have created more – and attempted 72 shots, the 13th-highest tally in the competition. Even crosses are scarce: five teams can better their figure of 211 deliveries into the box.

For context, Sunday's opponents Atletico Madrid have attempted 96 shots this season, the third-most in the league, created 10 more goalscoring chances than Barca and played 44 more passes into the penalty area – and all while facing a league-low 45 shots on their own goal, 14 fewer than Koeman's men. Even taking into account Barca's game in hand, these are notable differences.

 

A Messi divorce

Barca knew they would miss Messi. Koeman knew they would miss Messi. Anyone who has ever kicked a football knew they would miss Messi.

But, boy, they really do miss him.

Barca finished LaLiga last season with 85 goals, 18 more than any other side, 30 of which were scored by Messi. They outperformed their expected goals figure by 11.04, with only champions Atletico doing so by a greater margin (13.95). Messi himself exceeded his xG by 6.21.

 

Excluding penalties and own goals, Barca outperformed their xG of 74 in 2020-21. Their 583 shots, the most among LaLiga teams, each carried an average value of 0.13xG.

 

This season, Barca have scored 11 goals, which almost exactly matches their xG – and that is despite the average xG value of their shots increasing very slightly to 0.15. Without Messi's abnormal abilities, they are reverting towards the norm.

It's amazing how much better things look when someone is there to stick the ball in the net.

 

Dutch courage

Which brings us to Memphis Depay, the big positive of Koeman's time in charge.

Trying to fill Messi's shoes might be beyond mere mortals, but the way Depay has settled into his role as Barca's attacking lynchpin has been extremely impressive. The Netherlands forward has fulfilled his former international boss' requirements, leading the line with aplomb even when the team around him has floundered.

Depay has managed three goals and one assist in all competitions, more than any other Barca player. With 2.49 expected assists, he can consider himself unlucky not to have a greater tally of goal involvements, too.

To date, Depay has attempted 22 shots, more than three times as many as any team-mate, and created 18 chances, six more than the next-best figure posted by Frenkie de Jong.

 

Among LaLiga players in all competitions, only Karim Benzema (16) and Vinicius Junior (14) have mustered more shots on target than Depay (13), while only three players in Spain's top flight have completed more dribbles than the former Lyon and Manchester United man (21). He has embraced the pressure of leading the Barcelona line in one of the toughest periods in their recent history. He just can't do it alone.

If Koeman's reign is to survive this weekend, he will have to hope Depay can produce some magic against Atletico – although even that may not be enough.

Real Madrid's salary cap spending limits for the 2021-22 season is seven times greater than financially stricken Barcelona's, LaLiga has announced.

Los Blancos have seen their limit boosted by €270million, with Barca's reduced by €280m.

Carlo Ancelotti's side will be capped at just over €739m, but Barca can spend only €97m – with six clubs able to splash more than them.

Reigning champions Atletico Madrid have also been hit, with their limit reduced by €81m from last term, resulting in Diego Simeone's men allowed to spend €171m for the next campaign – the third-highest ceiling in the division.

LaLiga corporate director Jose Guerra suggested to ESPN that Madrid's limit, which is over €500m more than any other LaLiga team, would have left room for them to secure Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe, who they attempted to sign last transfer window.

"They [Real Madrid] would have no problem whatsoever," LaLiga corporate director Jose Guerra said to ESPN. "They were ready for [Kylian] Mbappe or any other player."

LaLiga calculates these figures by considering club's earnings, spendings, overheads, losses and debts to encourage sustainability and financial fair play.

 

Barca caused conflict with the league in August when they, along with Madrid and Athletic Bilbao, refused to sign a deal to sell 10 per cent of its business to CVC Capital Partners and later saw Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi leave for PSG because of the club's perilous financial situation.

Players such as Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba responded by agreeing payment deferrals and salary reductions, but Guerra explained the Catalan club's severe decrease is down to losses of almost €500m last season.

"They acknowledge much higher losses than what they had initially estimated, so the impact is greater on their spending limit," Guerra continued.

"If you take the €97m limit and add the losses, around €480m, we're talking about €570m, which would be more normal. So it's more or less stable."

While Barca expect their cap to increase in the following season due to writing off several assets in last year's accounts, Guerra also warned that this was not guaranteed as LaLiga consider past losses moving forward.

Sevilla have the second largest kitty, capped at €200m, with Villarreal (€159m), Real Sociedad (€127m) and Athletic Bilbao (€111m) making up the top six.

However, Valencia – who won LaLiga in 2003-04 – have the smallest limit, with their spending reduced to just €31m, which is a €71m fall from the previous year.

Cristiano Ronaldo is showing no signs of slowing down, despite his advancing years.

But the evergreen 36-year-old is still planning for life once he decides to call it quits.

A coaching career in Manchester is believed to be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO DOESN'T WANT TO LEAVE OLD TRAFFORD

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to stay at Manchester United beyond his retirement, according to The Sun.

Ronaldo is back at United for a second spell after re-joining from Juventus before the transfer window closed, having left Old Trafford in 2009.

The 36-year-old, however, is already planning for life after football as he eyes a coaching role with United's youth team in order to work with his son Cristiano Jr.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are interested in Juventus star Federico Chiesa, who has also been linked with Borussia Dortmund.

- Chelsea are preparing to make a big-money move for Juve centre-back Matthijs de Ligt after missing out on Sevilla star Jules Kounde, reports Diario AS.

- The Daily Mail says Arsenal and Tottenham are eyeing a January loan move for Barcelona misfit Philippe Coutinho.

- Staying in London and the Mirror claims Tottenham are considering an approach for Juve's Dejan Kulusevski.

Atletico Madrid are hoping to sign Fabian Ruiz from Napoli, according to Calciomercato. Determined to prise the Spain international, LaLiga champions Atletico could use Marcos Llorente as part of the deal. Fabian has also been linked with Real Madrid and Barca.

- Per Corriere della Serra, United, Chelsea and Juve are among the heavyweight clubs plotting a move for disgruntled Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has found himself on the bench since joining on a free transfer.

 

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone absolved his misfiring attackers of any blame following Saturday's shock LaLiga defeat to Deportivo Alaves. 

Victor Laguardia scored the only goal four minutes in at Estadio de Mendizorroza to inflict a first defeat of the season on Atleti in all competitions. 

Atleti had just one shot on target – substitute Angel Correa forcing Fernando Pacheco into a fine save – as Simeone's side missed out on the chance to overtake leaders Real Madrid. 

The Spanish champions have now failed to find the net in three of their last four matches, during which time they have won only once in all competitions. 

Despite playing a full part against Alaves, who were previously without a point this term, Luis Suarez and recent signing Antoine Griezmann failed to complete a single pass between each other. 

Griezmann has yet to so much as register a shot on target in his last seven LaLiga outings for Atleti and Barcelona combined, his longest such run in the competition. 

Rather than criticise the likes of Suarez, Griezmann and Correa, Atleti boss Simeone instead insisted it was down to him to find a way to break down a solid Alaves team. 

"The responsibility is mine for not having found options to overcome their defence," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"When opposition teams defend well, it is difficult to find those solutions. 

"It's also difficult when a team like Alaves close you down. We didn't have the speed or ability to hurt them. They deserved the win because they scored and knew how to defend." 

 

Laguardia's early goal came from a set-piece situation, the centre-back getting away from Stefan Savic and heading in Ruben Duarte's corner. 

Half of the previous 10 goals conceded by Atletico in the league have now come via headers, excluding own goals, and Simeone accepted his side must improve in that area. 

"I don't think the defence is to blame for the defeat because the goal came from a set-piece," he said.  

"But if there's a weakness at the back, or when defending set-pieces, then it is clear we will have to study that, work on it and try to correct it. 

"We have to keep improving. We had several phases of patient play today and I believe in these players." 

Atleti's fixtures do not get any easier as they travel to Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday, then host Barcelona in the league four days later. 

Reflecting on a bad run of form heading into that huge double-header, Simeone added: "We always say there are bad moments during a season and this may be one of them. 

"We have a good squad, a balanced squad, and we will analyse what is going wrong and try to find solutions." 

Atletico Madrid's unbeaten start to their LaLiga title defence came to an end as Victor Laguardia's early goal proved decisive in a 1-0 win for struggling Deportivo Alaves.

Alaves headed into Saturday's early game having lost all five LaLiga matches in 2021-22, yet they overcame the champions to claim a first top-flight win over Atleti since 2003.

Laguardia was the crucial figure. His fourth-minute header gave Alaves the lead, and the 31-year-old also made a vital clearance off the line in the second half.

Mamadou Loum and Tomas Pina squandered golden chances to make sure of the points for Alaves, but Diego Simeone's team could not make their fortune count as they tasted defeat in LaLiga for the first time since April.

Javier Calleja made five changes from the side that lost to Espanyol in midweek, but it was the ever-reliable Laguardia who headed Alaves in front when he escaped Stefan Savic to meet Ruben Duarte's corner.

Laguardia almost cost Alaves with a poor clearance before the half-hour mark, though Marcos Llorente was unable to direct his effort on target in Atleti's only first-half sighting of goal.

Rodrigo de Paul and Llorente tried their luck from range to no avail, before Laguardia came to Alaves' rescue with an exceptional piece of defending.

Alaves' goalscorer judged that De Paul's free-kick was curling in, and just got back in time to head the ball off the line.

Sloppy defending from Felipe allowed Loum in at the other end, only for the Alaves midfielder to blaze over from close range.

Simeone turned to Angel Correa to offer some inspiration, and the forward soon wriggled free in the area to get a shot off, but Fernando Pacheco made an excellent stop.

And despite Pina following Loum's example and lashing a brilliant chance over, Alaves held on to a deserved victory.

Barcelona need to add some attacking options to their squad, particularly with the Lionel Messi era now over.

Ferran Torres is among those on their wish list. 

Will Manchester City let him go? 

 

TOP STORY – BARCELONA STILL COVET TORRES

Barcelona are not ready to give up on their pursuit of Manchester City forward Ferran Torres, the Sun reports.  

After being rebuffed in a previous overture for the 21-year-old Spain international, Barca are ready to try again next year.  

Torres has done them no favours with his impressive showing for Spain at Euro 2020, plus his in-form start to this season for City. 

 

ROUND-UP

Xavi could be in line to replace Ronald Koeman at Barcelona, Marca reports. The Barca legend is head coach at Al Sadd after finishing his playing career with the Qatari club.  

Liverpool plan to renew their pursuit of West Ham's Jarrod Bowen, the Liverpool Echo reports, after they reportedly bid £20million for him during the previous transfer window.  

Alexandre Lacazette will have no shortage of suitors when the time comes for him to depart Arsenal. Atletico Madrid are interested in the France striker, says Le10 Sport, while West Ham and Crystal Palace may also bid for the 30-year-old, according to 90min. 

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips.

Europe's elite are reportedly queuing up to sign the Borussia Dortmund and Norway sensation.

If Haaland leaves Dortmund, the Bundesliga outfit have a replacement in mind.

 

TOP STORY – HAALAND OUT, CHIESA IN AT BVB?

Borussia Dortmund see Juventus forward Federico Chiesa as a replacement for in-demand star Erling Haaland, according to Calciomercato.

Haaland is tipped to leave Dortmund at the end of the season amid links with Real Madrid, Manchester United, Bayern Munich, Manchester City, Barcelona, Liverpool and Paris Saint-Germain.

Should Haaland depart, Dortmund are eyeing Juve and Italy star Chiesa, who has previously caught the attention of Chelsea and Liverpool.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato reports Juve, Inter and Milan are interested in Madrid forward Luka Jovic, who has been linked with a January exit.

- A contract extension for Liverpool's Naby Keita is not as close as previously thought, claims Bild. It comes as Liverpool reportedly eye Dortmund sensation Jude Bellingham.

Tottenham will make a January move for Fiorentina star Dusan Vlahovic, according to Calciomercato. The Serbia international forward has also been linked with City, Arsenal, Juve and Atletico Madrid.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone says the side are different to the one when Antoine Griezmann previously left and has called for patience with the French forward.

Griezmann was replaced in the 67th minute with Atletico trailing 1-0 against Getafe on Tuesday, before Luis Suarez netted twice to complete a fine comeback.

The France international was making his fourth appearance for Atletico since returning from Barcelona on deadline day, having left for the Blaugrana in 2019. Griezmann is yet to score for Atleti in his second stint at the club.

"It is normal. He was very enthusiastic to return," Simeone told reporters after the game.

"He is in the process of adapting to this Atletico, which is not the same as the one he left but I have no doubts that it will be what we expect. We are fortunate to have him.

"Atletico generated other things last season… now we understand that with the players we have these systems can also enter.

"The team has more associative play. We are on a path for everyone to adapt, not only Griezmann, but also Rodrigo [De Paul]. Today he did very well. He came on to give us more stability."

Atletico's comeback was aided by Carles Alena's 74th-minute sending off, dismissed for a second yellow card upon consultation with the VAR.

Suarez equalised in the 78th minute from Hermoso's ball into the box, before the Uruguayan headed a 90th-minute winner from Sime Vrsaljko's hopeful cross.

The brace ended Suarez's slow start to the campaign, having only netted once in Atletico's five games prior to the Getafe clash.

"Anyone would have removed Suarez and Suarez scored goals," Simeone said.

“We chatted at half-time and then, even aside from the goals, we saw another team that played with more offensive forcefulness. We have to continue managing that and wait for our most important players to hit their best form."

The result lifts Atletico above Real Madrid into top spot with 14 points from six games, although Los Blancos have a game in hand against Real Mallorca on Wednesday. Simeone conceded his side are yet to find their best form.

"We're at the start of the season," Simeone said. "There are many situations that the team needs to overcome, the team hasn't been as we would like them to be. The game was against a difficult opponent, who aren't going to lose all season and are dangerous."

Luis Suarez led Atletico Madrid to another stunning turnaround on the road in LaLiga as they won 2-1 again at Getafe on Tuesday.

Champions Atleti had scored a 99th-minute winner in their previous away match at Espanyol having trailed at half-time and required a repeat against their latest hosts.

Stefan Mitrovic's fortuitous first-half header ended Getafe's long drought in this fixture going back to 2011 and kept them in front until a foolish red card for Carles Alena.

Suarez capitalised in typically clinical fashion, scoring twice in the closing stages to continue this remarkable trend of late heroics.

The Uruguay forward had been involved in Atleti's best chance of the opening period when they looked certain to take the lead after his volley was parried only as far as Angel Correa, but Juan Iglesias stretched to block just as the winger appeared to have a simple finish.

Instead, Getafe were in front on the stroke of the interval, keeping an attack alive when Jan Oblak failed to claim a high ball, before Mitrovic's header bounced off the post, against the goalkeeper's right hand and in.

Suarez deserved better when a looping header on 68 minutes hit the crossbar after beating David Soria, as pressure had built on the home goal throughout the second half.

It only ramped up further when Alena, already booked, was dismissed following a VAR review for an ugly stamp on the back of Matheus Cunha's calf.

Suarez soon rifled past Soria and, after Oblak had to be alert to a close-range Enes Unal attempt, the Atleti number seven was there again with a header as the clock turned 90.

Bukayo Saka only turned 20 earlier this month but he is a player on the rise.

The Arsenal forward was part of England's side that reached the Euro 2020 final in July.

Saka has put in plenty of eye-catching displays for the Gunners too.

 

TOP STORY – JUVENTUS AND ATLETICO KEEN ON SAKA

Calciomercato claims that Juventus and Atletico Madrid  are both monitoring Arsenal's England international forward Bukayo Saka .

The Gunners are believed to want £43million (€50m) to sell the 20-year-old, who signed a four-year deal in July last year.

Saka has become a key player at Arsenal, making 32 Premier League appearances last term.

 

ROUND-UP

- Everton's Colombia international James Rodriguez has reached a verbal agreement to join Qatari club Al Rayyan according to Argentine journalist Cesar Luis Merlo. Rodriguez has not played yet this season and almost joined Porto in the off-season.

- Inter are homing in on a move to sign Manchester United midfielder Donny van de Beek reports Calciomercato. The 24-year-old Dutchman has had a tough time at Old Trafford since joining United for £35m from Ajax in 2020.

- Calciomercato also claims that Jose Mourinho wants to lure Manchester United right-back Diogo Dalot to Roma . The Argentine spent last season on loan with Milan.

- Andreas Christensen is set to sign a new deal with Chelsea worth £120,000-per-week claims The Sun.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone has backed star forward pair Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann after their slow starts to the new LaLiga season.

The Spanish champions drew 0-0 with Athletic Bilbao in LaLiga on Saturday, days after another scoreless draw against FC Porto in the Champions League.

Suarez has netted only once in six appearances this term for Atleti, while Griezmann is yet to score in three games since his deadline day move from Barcelona.

"I have full confidence in all my players. I am aware that Luis was the last one to join the team alongside [Angel] Correa, [Kieran] Trippier and [Ramon] Lodi," Simeone said.

"They are the last ones who joined us in the pre-season. Then, in the international break, when he was getting fully fit, he had to stop following some physical issues.

"Now it is normal that it is taking some time for him to get fit but he eventually will, as he is a very important player for us."

On Griezmann, Simeone added: "I have full confidence in Antoine. He is a very important player for our team and all I had to tell him about is what I saw from his performances and which aspects I want him to improve on, and I have already told him this."

Atletico's chances of beating Bilbao on Saturday were not helped by Joao Felix's sending off, with the Portuguese forward dismissed after a second bookable offence for dissent.

In the wake of the game, Simeone downplayed Joao Felix's actions but he added on Monday that the side need to do better, having received 10 yellow cards in five games for complaining to referees.

"No, we must improve on that aspect, you just mentioned," he said. "I have no doubts we will do that.

"We really respect the Referee's Committee and yes, sometimes you can talk with them [in the games], but we are aiming to reduce those numbers because they are not good from us."

Atletico will take on Getafe away from home in LaLiga on Tuesday.

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 lacked the required cutting edge to beat Athletic Bilbao as the defending Spanish champions had Joao Felix sent off in a 0-0 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Diego Simeone's side had been hoping to prove their struggles in a stalemate against Porto in midweek were not indicative of wider problems, but they disappointed the home crowd again.

The hosts had looked promising at the start, though Athletic soon grew into the game and defensively they were able to frustrate Atletico.

Inaki Williams was unable to make the most of a rare moment of defensive frailty from Los Colchoneros, though they were never made to rue his miss as Atletico failed to break the deadlock, the post denying Marcos Llorente late on before Joao Felix's red card encapsulated the home side's frustration.

Atletico enjoyed some pressure during the early exchanges, with Antoine Griezmann shooting wide from close range and Stefan Savic heading into the arms of Unai Simon from a similar distance.

But those half-chances were hardly precursors to a sustained onslaught, with Atletico not worrying Athletic again before the break.

They came out after the interval with renewed purpose, as Angel Correa headed just wide from Renan Lodi's cross.

But Athletic crafted the best chance of the game two minutes later, Williams poking the ball through Jose Gimenez's legs before charging through on goal, only to let Atletico off the hook by not even hitting the target when one-on-one with Jan Oblak.

Simeone turned to Luis Suarez – seemingly dropped after an ineffective showing against Porto – as he made four substitutions in five minutes before the hour, though the Uruguayan's lack of pace was glaring when unable to run through on goal when released by fellow substitute Yannick Carrasco.

Llorente attempted to take matters into his own hands but saw his long-range effort crash off the post, before Atletico's chances took a final blow when Joao Felix – another sub – was booked twice in quick succession, the second for dissent, and he left the pitch in a furious mood.

Asier Villalibre then squandered a glorious chance to win it in stoppage-time, slicing over with only Oblak in his path.

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