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Ronaldo learns fine for mocking Simeone with groin grab

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Diego Simeone was fined around $23,000 for his groin-centered celebrations when Atletico Madrid beat Juventus in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League tie, and now Cristiano Ronaldo has been nipped the same fee for the same gesture.

Ronaldo’s came on the field following his hat trick, as Juve stormed back to thump Simeone’s Atleti and march on to the UCL quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Hazard, Real, and the back-up plan ]

Charged by UEFA earlier this week, Ronaldo has now learned his punishment. It’s almost $1000 more.

How will he afford it?!!?!?! He reportedly makes just under $700,000 per week.

To be fair, it couldn’t be exactly the same price, given the sentiment behind such a fine is that it’s mean to rile up a crowd. Ronaldo’s move would’ve been viewed as a slight at Simeone and hence just a bit more of an antagonistic one.

Doubts about Simeone surface after Atleti’s defensive tactics fail

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MADRID (AP) For quite a while now, Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has been able to count on some of the best players in the world.

Stars like Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin have stayed with the club despite big offers from rivals, and Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata have been added.

The financial gap between Atletico and the top European teams has been reduced significantly in recent years, and the club has gradually grown into one of the continent’s main forces, providing Simeone near-perfect conditions to do his job.

Long gone is the time Atletico was just a mid-level team trying to sporadically surprise the European powerhouses.

But one thing that hasn’t changed as Atletico evolved was Simeone’s vision of soccer and how it should be played. No matter the circumstances and no matter the players, Simeone’s teams will always have a defensive-minded footprint. His teams will always rely first on defense before making any consideration about attacking.

It’s a formula that has worked most of the time – that’s how Atletico made it to two Champions League finals and won the Spanish league over Barcelona and Real Madrid.

But the team’s embarrassing performance in a 3-0 loss to Juventus on Tuesday, a result that eliminated the club in the round of 16 of the Champions League, gives some fuel to those who think Atletico could be playing differently and succeeding more often than it is under Simeone’s tactics and his current players.

With a 2-0 advantage from the first leg, it was expected for Atletico to fall back on defense in Turin. But the way it happened was demoralizing, with Simeone’s team barely getting near Juventus’ area and never having a realistic chance of withstanding the onslaught brought on by the hosts. Cristiano Ronaldo, who so often hurt Atletico while playing with Real Madrid, scored a hat trick to eliminate the Spanish club from the competition.

After reaching at least the quarterfinals in four straight seasons, Atletico was eliminated early for the second consecutive year. It didn’t even make it past the group stage last season.

Atletico had no shots on goal the entire game on Tuesday, with Alvaro Morata’s first-half header over the crossbar being the closest the team came to scoring. An away goal by the Spanish club would have made it much harder for Juventus to overcome the first-leg deficit.

“I don’t think it was lack of commitment or lack of character,” Simeone said. “They were just better than us and we have to congratulate them. We have to put our heads down and try to understand how we can improve for the future.”

The only thing left for Atletico this season is the Spanish league, and it trails leader Barcelona by seven points with 11 matches left. It was eliminated by Girona in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey in January.

The 48-year-old Simeone, who last month had his contract extended until 2022, arrived in December 2011 and led Atletico to the Europa League title that same season.

Sticking to his defense-first formula, the Argentine eventually helped Atletico win two UEFA Super Cups, the Copa del Rey, the Spanish league, the Spanish Super Cup and another Europa League. The team lost in the Champions League final to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016, and was eliminated by the same team in the 2017 semifinals.

The recent setbacks are not likely to change Simeone’s style, and fans don’t expect it to happen anytime soon, if ever.

“What I can tell Atletico fans is that we will keep working hard,” Simeone said. “We have to pick ourselves up and try to keep improving.”

Ronaldo hat trick springs Juventus comeback (video)

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Cristiano Ronaldo scored a hat trick, backing up his trash talk and leading Juventus to the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals.

It was a 3-0 second leg win for Juventus over Ronaldo’s old Spanish rivals Atletico Madrid in Turin, stunning the stingy defense he’s burdened so many times.

Ronaldo mimicked Diego Simeone’s “bollocks” celebration after putting Juve in front.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

VAR looked like it could become a part of the festivities within four minutes of kickoff, as Cristiano Ronaldo’s lunge at Jan Oblak caught ball but then sent him through the keeper before Leonardo Bonucci punched the ball into the goal.

But nothing came of it, and the match remained scoreless.

Antoine Griezmann tested Wojciech Szczesny with a long range effort, but the keeper saved the ball from the back of the goal.

Ronaldo then put Juve ahead with his head, powering through Juanfran to finish an Emre Can cross. 1-0, game on, courtesy of Ronaldo’s 122nd UEFA Champions League goal.

Ronaldo headed wide just before halftime, and it truly felt like Juve was headed for a comeback.

His forehead did the trick just after the break, goal line technology defying what looked like an amazing Jan Oblak save.

A lull in chances snapped when substitute Moise Kean just missed with an effort across goal.

Fiorentina-bred Federico Bernardeschi then won a penalty to give Juve its first lead of the tie, with Ronaldo converted the hat trick.

Simeone signs new deal with Atletico Madrid

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Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone is set to experience a fourth decade with the club.

La Liga’s European mainstays announced a new deal for their successful mastermind that ties Simeone to the Wanda Metropolitano through 2022.

[ MORE: Bale suspension looms ]

Simeone spent two stints with Atleti as a player, one in the 1990s and the other in the 2000s, and was hired to manage the club in 2011 following a half-decade coaching in South America.

From Atleti’s web site:

Diego Pablo Simeone has signed a contract extension with Atlético de Madrid until June 30, 2022. Our coach signed his new contract at the Wanda Metropolitano alongside President Enrique Cerezo and CEO Miguel Ángel Gil. This way, we extend the project that began in 2011 with the arrival of the Argentine and that has brought us one of the most successful phases of our club’s history with seven trophies won. During this time, Simeone has become the coach who has won the most amount of titles at our club.

It’s often fascinating to ponder how a tactical wizard would do in a different league, or with more resources, but we love that Simeone and Atleti are one and the same.

Atleti is seven points clear of fourth place and the same distance back of leaders Barcelona. They’ll face Juventus next week in the UEFA Champions League.

Reports: Simeone, Southgate on Manchester United’s list

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It seems Manchester United’s pursuit of a new manager has not lost any steam, even as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer puts his undefeated Manchester United record on the line Sunday.

The Red Devils have been linked with two more names this weekend, one a long-time whisper and the other a bit of a surprise.

[ MORE: What we learned in the Premier League, Week 22 ]

The Daily Mirror reports that Diego Simeone has been “sounded out” by United’s brass, with 18 months left on his Atletico Madrid contract and La Liga’s mainstays actively seeking to extend his 7-year reign in Spain.

And United is also considering England boss Gareth Southgate as an option, according to Sky Sports, touting the manager’s acumen in developing young players and strong reputation in the soccer community.

The two options could hardly be more different, or less likely. Simeone is a no-brainer for literally any open job on Earth, while Southgate’s flower has just bloomed and is merely a prospect having held one Premier League job at the club level.

Simeone is a master tactician capable of leading an aggressive attack, but more likely to err on the side prudent of than free-flowing at all costs, especially in big matches.

A fireball on the sidelines, Simeone also has a resume reputation few managers can touch. He won La Liga during the Ronaldo-Messi era in 2013-14, twice claimed the Europa League, has won the Copa del Rey, and was a two-time Champions League runner-up all while dealing with sales of Theo Hernandez, Arda Turan, Mario Mandzukic, Sergio Aguero, Diego Costa, and David De Gea (who has since returned).

As for Southgate, his reputation has grown in a big way since leading England to the 2018 World Cup semifinal and the inaugural UEFA Nations League knockout rounds. He has unrivaled job security in terms of the Three Lions job, having led England’s U-21 to the Toulon Tournament title and helped developed many of their stars.

But his club experience as a manager is less impressive, winning 29 percent of his games at Middlesbrough over three seasons. He led Boro to 12th, 13th, and 19th place Premier League finishes, and left the relegated club in its first season during the Championship.

Southgate would still, of course, be an attractive option.