European Super League: Simeone refuses to criticise Atletico chiefs but backs withdrawal

By Sports Desk April 21, 2021

Diego Simeone was not prepared to criticise Atletico Madrid chiefs nor the premise of the European Super League following the proposed competition's collapse but backed the decision to withdraw.

Atletico were one of the 12 founding clubs to initially sign up for the tournament, which was announced on Sunday, but their plans crumbled within 48 hours.

The backlash was significant on Monday and then Tuesday proved pivotal, as English clubs took note of the passionate response from fans, media, players and coaches.

Manchester City became the first to withdraw, followed by Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool, Manchester United and Tottenham. Atletico, Inter and Milan followed on Wednesday

Atletico boss Simeone did not take the opportunity to openly criticise the plans during a press conference on the eve of Thursday's LaLiga clash with Huesca, as Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola did in previous days, but accepted it was the right decision.

Speaking of his talks with Atletico CEO Miguel Angel Gil Marin, Simeone said: "Going into what he told us is not appropriate, but we saw doubts about this situation and what happened later, last night, when the clubs began to leave the Super League.

"I was told after the last game, I understood that the club was going to decide what was best for the club. The club has looked at our fans, employees, players, president – the Atletico family."

When pressed for his own opinion, Simeone added: "Listen to what I said before. I was clear, concrete and true. There is nothing to hide.

"I was one of the first to be consulted after the match and I said that I absolutely trusted the club because they were going to do what was best for the club. We understand that this situation [the withdrawal] is good for everyone. We all belong to football – before being footballers and coaches, we are fans.

"They have known me for a long time, I do not like demagoguery or taking advantage of situations to strengthen myself.

"What I think, I tell the people I have to talk to. I do not like to express myself here."

Simeone still expects the events of the past few days to contribute to significant change in European football.

"Faced with seismic movements like this, something is going to change, for sure, I have no doubt," he said. "And for the better, don't get me wrong.

"When there are movements, the parties will have to get closer and find what everyone wants or wanted before."

Related items

  • Koeman: Touchline ban is about something personal Koeman: Touchline ban is about something personal

    Ronald Koeman believes there is something personal behind the decision to hand him a touchline ban.

    Barcelona confirmed this week they are to appeal to Spain's Administrative Court of Sport (TAD) after head coach Koeman's ban for Saturday's potential LaLiga title decider with Atletico Madrid was upheld by the Spanish Football Federation (RFEF).

    Koeman was hit with a two-match suspension after being shown a red card for comments made to the fourth official during his side's shock 2-1 home loss to Granada last Thursday.

    Barcelona had hoped to have Koeman back for the massive game at Camp Nou, but it was announced on Wednesday that their appeal was not successful, prompting the club to try again with TAD.

    "Yes, I think it was personal," said Koeman.

    "Because saying 'what a character' in Spanish or 'what a person' in English is not insulting. 

    "It is not a reason to sanction. So yes, there is something else behind it.

    "Better not talk about the referees because, in general, the RFEF puts one of the best referees in for these games. 

    "It is hoped that he [Mateu Lahoz] gets his decisions right, but you don't have to think about the referees. You have to think about yourself and plan.

    "Hopefully the decisions of the VAR are fair for us and for Atletico."

    Barca go into the match at Camp Nou two points behind leaders Atletico, with Real Madrid also trailing Diego Simeone's men by that margin in a thrilling title race.

    Ahead of the crunch clash, Barca confirmed Ansu Fati's injury comeback has hit another setback, as the Spain forward had to undergo another knee operation, his fourth procedure.

    Fati suffered a serious meniscus injury in November, having scored five goals across 10 appearances for Barca across all competitions.

    The 18-year-old was initially forecast to return in March, but his long spell on the sidelines and problems with his injury had even led some to question whether Fati would be able to have a long career in the game.

    "Poor kid," said Koeman. "I have not yet spoken with Ansu. I did speak with him before his trip to Porto [for the operation].

    "It takes a long time and there are things that have not gone well with his recovery - I don't want to go into that anymore, but five or six months is a long time.

    "Now the most important thing is that he is going to recover, he is going to get well and that he will be with us. Too bad it is for next season.

    "It has been important that we missed a player like him, but the most important thing is that he recovers well to continue playing."

    Koeman knows the stakes are high in the title race and Barcelona have a good record against their opponents, losing just one of their 21 previous LaLiga games against Atletico, winning 14.

    "I have not changed my mind; if we win every game we will be champions," he said of the four remaining league fixtures.

    "I don't think it [this result] is decisive because there will be three games left, but of course it is important. It is not decisive.

    "They are both very good teams and we are fighting with two more teams as well [Real Madrid and Sevilla]. 

    "We have to be good with the ball because Atletico closes well and defends well. We have to be good with the ball to create opportunities and be effective."

    Barca are looking to avoid losing home and away in the league against Atleti for the first time since 2005-06, Simeone's men having won 1-0 in the last meeting in November.

    But aside from that rare blip against Granada, Koeman's side have the momentum. They have collected a league-high 49 points in 2021 (W16 D1 L2), eight more than Atletico in this period.

    Lionel Messi has scored 20 goals (excluding penalties) in LaLiga in 2021, vastly outperforming an expected goals figure of 11.

    Opta data shows he has the biggest positive differential (nine) for any player in the top five European leagues since the start of year.

  • Adelaide United 0-0 Wellington Phoenix: Ryan shows Strain in A-League stalemate Adelaide United 0-0 Wellington Phoenix: Ryan shows Strain in A-League stalemate

    Adelaide United continue to lose ground on A-League leaders Melbourne City following a 0-0 draw with Wellington Phoenix.

    The hosts saw Ryan Strain sent off 16 minutes from time to dampen hopes of a late rally, with Carl Veart's men winless in four.

    Adelaide are now six points behind City and have played a game more, with a trip to Melbourne to face their rivals next on the agenda.

    Having been held to a goalless draw last time out against Western United, Adelaide started brightly and Stefan Mauk should have capitalised on Josh Cavallo's fine delivery, but instead miscontrolled when well placed.

    Tomi Juric saw a strong header saved smartly by Oliver Sail as the home side pressed, but after a blank first half ambition had to take a back seat when Strain got his marching orders for a second yellow card after he kicked the ball away.

  • Lukaku: Ibrahimovic is good for Serie A Lukaku: Ibrahimovic is good for Serie A

    Romelu Lukaku believes Zlatan Ibrahimovic has helped to raise the level of Serie A and is not dwelling on their heated clash earlier this season.

    Lukaku had to be dragged away from Ibrahimovic after the Milan striker apparently insulted his mother during January's Coppa Italia derby.

    The Belgium striker equalised from the penalty spot in a 2-1 win for Inter, while the Sweden veteran was sent off.

    Ibrahimovic denied allegations of racially abusing Lukaku during the spat and, after inspiring Inter to a valedictory Scudetto triumph, the younger man seemed to have no intention of retaining any ill-feeling towards his former Manchester United team-mate.

    "We were losing 1-0, I missed a goal, I was a bit angry," he told Corriere Della Sera.

    "His words struck me. I'm not happy with having reacted like that but don't let myself get pushed around. 

    "I am humble and calm, I am a winner and I fight to death for my team-mates and for the victory."

    Lukaku looks likely to fall short in this season's Capocannoniere race as he sits on 21 goals behind Cristiano Ronaldo on 27.

    Ibrahimovic has 15, although his haul comes from 18 appearances, compared to 33 for Lukaku, giving him a superior minutes-per-goal rate (95.47 v 127.29).

    Lukaku feels Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo plying their trade in Serie A only adds to the division's appeal, with Jose Mourinho's appointment as Roma head coach this week providing similar lustre.

     

    "[Ibrahimovic is] a great player, he has won wherever he has played, he has scored more than 500 goals," he said.

    "We need players of this level in Serie A. He wants to win for himself, me for Inter, Ronaldo for Juve, now there is Mourinho at Roma.

    "They are all good things for Italy. The level is raised, let's hope Inter win again [next season]."

    Although ending Juventus' decade of dominance in Italy was joyously celebrated by Inter and their fans, Lukaku conceded there are pangs of regret of Antonio Conte's men bowing out at the group stage of the Champions League this season.

    Real Madrid and Borussia Monchengladbach progressed out of a tough round-robin section that also featured Inter and Shakhtar Donetsk.

    "Leaving in the group stage was a great disappointment, we should have qualified in that group," he added.

    "Real Madrid are strong, but we were better than the other two.  Next year we have to overcome the group, then anything can happen."

© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.