Diego Simeone

Atletico Madrid
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Atletico Madrid relishes capacity to suffer after Anfield triumph

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Atletico Madrid forward Marcos Llorente sounded an alarm to the rest of the UEFA Champions League after his side flustered reigning champs Liverpool to advance to the quarterfinals.

“We don’t have any limits to how much we can go through and suffer,” Llorente said. “We defended with our lives and when we all pull in the same direction, these things can happen.”

[ MORE: Klopp, Milner react ]

Now, sure, Liverpool was dominant and a victim of its own poor finishing on the day, but Diego Simeone’s Atleti had earned its reputation as a stingy side well before Wednesday’s 3-2 extra-time win at Anfield.

“Atletico knew how to suffer, endure, and dethrone the current European champion,” Simeone said after the win, via Marca. “The Rojiblancos will be in the Champions League quarterfinals.”

That’s nothing new; Atleti has been to two UCL finals under Simeone, losing both to crosstown rivals Real Madrid. The manager led the club to two Europa League titles, too.

Simeone lauded goalkeeper Jan Oblak, who was sensational in a nine-save performance.

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“He is as important as the others, like Savic, Lodi, Felipe, Joao Félix,” he said. “But we have a goalkeeper who is the best in the world just as Barcelona has Messi.”

Wow. We get the point, but wow.

Former Spurs defender Kieran Trippier explained why Atleti is able to defend so resolutely in a televised interview on TBS after the win.

“The way we play is the way we train,” Trippier said. “[Simeone is] like this on the touchline in training. It’s a joy to learn from him every day and work with him. I knew I needed a change and when a club like Atletico Madrid come in for you, you can’t say no. I’m learning new things every day.”

Liverpool’s Klopp: ‘Our people will be ready’ for second leg at Anfield

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Jurgen Klopp didn’t have any issue with Diego Simeone’s defense-first Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Spanish side flummoxed Liverpool’s attack and the Reds didn’t manage a shot on target despite eight attempts and 73 percent possession at the Wanda Metropolitano.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

What Klopp didn’t appreciate was the referee’s work, though, implying that Polish official Szymon Marciniak was overwhelmed by the occasion. Marciniak has worked UCL matches for six seasons, twice overseeing quarterfinal ties.

Klopp was shown a yellow card in the second half, and the Liverpool boss felt Sadio Mane was harassed by Atleti. Klopp removed yellow-carrying Mane at halftime.

“He was targeted obviously,” Klopp said after the game. “The only thing they wanted was to make sure he got a yellow card. The score is 1-0, that’s all but you need to be really strong as a ref in this atmosphere. So many things happened, after 30 minutes already three players were on the ground. The first yellow card was a striker from us. I’m not sure they even got a yellow card, which is funny.”

Atleti’s Angel Correa was shown a yellow, while Klopp, Mane, and Joe Gomez were cautioned for Liverpool.

The Liverpool boss found himself laughing a few times, especially when he was asked about Simeone’s touchline personality.

Klopp said before the game that if the German was a four in intensity, then Simeone was a 12. Simeone followed suit by constantly urging the crowd to get behind the home side on Tuesday.

That didn’t bother Klopp, but he issued a public relations officer’s dream in reacting to it.

“Wow, wow,” he laughed. “That’s energy. I don’t think I have to do it that much (at Anfield). Our people will be ready. Welcome to Anfield. It’s not over yet.”

Klopp finished his remarks by saying of Jordan Henderson‘s removal from the game with a hamstring injury, “I hope it was a precaution, but I’m not 100 percent sure”

Simeone: Liverpool intensity ‘makes me admire it as a rival’

UEFA Champions League
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The UEFA Champions League returns at long last on Tuesday, and two of the greatest managers in the game will match wits for the first time.

No we’re not talking about Lucien Favre and Thomas Tuchel, the meeting of the minds in Tuesday’s other kickoff between Borussia Dortmund and Paris Saint-Germain in Germany.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Liverpool’s Jurgen Klopp will go head-to-head with Atletico Madrid’s Diego Simeone in Spain, and the fiery German thinks it will be “absolutely interesting.”

From The Liverpool Echo:

“People say I emotional on the sideline,” Klopp said. “I am only on level 4, Diego is level 12. Really I am the kindergarten cop against him. He is so impressive after all these years, after so many years at the club – eight years. That is really long and having still this emotional level, still, wow. So impressive. I say, his teams are always organized world class.”

The admiration is mutual.

Simeone expects a huge challenge from a Liverpool team he regards on a historic plane.

“We are facing a magnificent team, really well-trained by a coach who is different and has different alternatives in his team,” he said, via The Independent. “We have always spoken about great teams throughout time and I have no doubt this Liverpool is going to go down in history as a great team because it is different to teams that we have admired. This team is much more intense, more adaptable, and it makes me admire it as a rival.”

The bettors say Liverpool is the heavy favorite in the first leg despite the match’s location at the Wanda Metropolitano. With football geniuses like Klopp and Simeone, however, either could have a plan to throw the other for a loop.

La Liga roundup: Correa earns Atletico Madrid, Simeone second win of the year (video)

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Atletico Madrid’s hard-earned victory over Granda highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Atletico Madrid 1-0 Granada

Prior to Atletico Madrid’s 1-0 victory over a visiting Granda on Saturday, the club had yet to record a league victory since January 4 against Levante at the Wanda Metropolitano.

A sixth-minute strike from Angel Correa proved to be the determining factor for Los Colchoneros. Koke, back on the field after recovering from injury, set up the 24-year-old inside the box with a soft pass. Correa, with a Granda defender in closing in, struck the ball into the bottom left corner.

 

With Diego Costa and Joao Felix inactive with injuries, Correa, who increased his goal tally to four, and Vitolo spearheaded Diego Simeone’s 4-1-2-1-2 formation. The seldom seen tandem paid it forward.

Heading into Saturday matchup on a five-match winless streak, the pressure was looming on Simeone. So much so that reports out of Spain began indicating the potential hiring of Mauricio Pochettino by Atletico’s brass.

With that in mind, Simone, more than Atletico, needed the win to stay afloat in a couple of different areas.

“There are quite a few positive situations,” Simeone said after Atletico’s 1-0 win on Saturday. “We were coming from a not good time. We needed to win first and foremost. And that always generates a responsibility rather than pressure. We are once again an extraordinary stadium that generated that energy that is needed to get out of these bad times.”

Simeone and Atletico will try to build on the crucial victory on Friday, as they travel to Mestalla to take on Valencia. Granda, on the other hand, take on Athletic Bilbao in the Copa del Rey semifinals midweek before hosting Real Valladolid on Saturday.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Getafe 3-0 Valencia

Valladolid 1-1 Villarreal

Levante 2-0 Leganes

Report: Cavani to stay at PSG after Atletico Madrid transfer falls through

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After all that, Edinson Cavani may not go anywhere.

The Uruguayan striker reportedly handed in a transfer request earlier this month and seemed destined for a switch to Atletico Madrid, but with the Spanish side reportedly unable to come up with the funds to secure a switch, Cavani will stay put in the French capital for the remainder of the season.

The report comes from French publication L’Equipe, who states that Atletico Madrid required a sale of Thomas Lemar to fund a move for Cavani, and that prerequisite move never materialized. Cavani is out of contract at the end of the season, but L’Equipe reports that a pair of bids from Atleti valued at $11 million and $16.5 million were both turned down by PSG, and the Spanish club could not afford an improved offer without incoming funds. L’Equipe is reporting that the French club was not in a negotiating mood, accepting nothing less than the initial asking price of $22 million.

Later, ESPN’s Ligue 1 reporter Jonathan Johnson verified the L’Equipe report.

This represents a blow for a number of clubs. First, PSG is set to lose Cavani for nothing after playing hardball. That’s a mistake by the French club, with Cavani riding the bench for much of the season to date. His presence would represent nothing more than injury cover for the likes of Neymar, Kylian Mbappe, and Mauro Icardi, while the club could have instead brought in some cash for his services.

It’s also a blow to Atletico Madrid who desperately needs attacking players. Diego Simeone’s side has been starving for goals this entire campaign, and while it’s likely that just the addition of a 32-year-old Cavani would not have been a cure-all for the Spanish side, the L’Equipe report nonetheless states that Simeone is “furious” with the outcome.

Finally, it’s also bad news for Lemar. Once one of Europe’s most coveted young stars at AS Monaco, his move to Atletico Madrid has been downright disastrous. He has not scored or assisted a goal in 21 total appearances for Atleti this season and is now sidelined with a hamstring injury that likely put a lid on any outgoing transfer this winter.

This entire process, all reports pointed towards Cavani’s intense desire to join Atletico Madrid, even apparently ready to take a salary reduction to streamline the deal. Chelsea had been rumored to be interested, but was rebuffed by the asking price as well as his determination to join Atleti. On Wednesday, there was even a report that new Major League Soccer club Inter Miami had made a late offer for Cavani, but in the end, that was likely nothing more than the player’s agent looking for one last gasp at pressuring Atletico Madrid to up its price.