Diego Simeone said he is not worried about Barcelona and Real Madrid, instead concerned by Sevilla after Atletico Madrid lost further ground in LaLiga.

Atletico suffered a 1-0 defeat to Barcelona, who prevailed in Madrid thanks to Lionel Messi's stunning 86th-minute goal on Sunday.

The result left Atletico languishing in sixth, six points behind LaLiga champions Barca and Madrid, and five adrift of third-placed Sevilla.

"Barcelona and Real Madrid don't worry me," Atletico head coach Simeone told reporters. "Sevilla do, it's now five points."

Atletico looked the better of the two sides for most parts of Sunday's showdown in the Spanish capital.

However, Atletico were unable to take advantage – Simeone's side managing just 16 goals in 15 league matches this season.

It comes after an off-season of change, which saw Antoine Griezmann, Diego Godin, Rodri, Filipe Luis, Juanfran and Lucas Hernandez leave, and the likes of Joao Felix, Marcos Llorente, Mario Hermoso, Kieran Trippier and Felipe come in.

And Simeone called for patience as he said: "The team gave everything, the players are doing what the coach is asking of them.

"Change will come and, instead of hitting the post, the ball will go in. We have to stay patient and know that we're in a year of transition.

"I'm the least patient person, we have to understand the enormous change that the team has gone through, but we need time to improve.

"We're competing in all the matches we play in. I have the strength and balance to know that the league season is long."

On Atletico's lack of goals, Simeone added: "We can't argue with the numbers. We're busy trying to find solutions.

"The only way is to create chances and we did that. Joao [Felix] had rhythm, [Angel] Correa was very good.

"It's been eight years and it's the moment to push to achieve what the club are looking for."

Barcelona head coach Ernesto Valverde said having Lionel Messi "is always a huge advantage" after his match-winning performance against Atletico Madrid.

Messi scored a stunning 86th-minute winner to lead Barca past Atletico 1-0 and back to the LaLiga summit on Sunday.

Barca were far from their best against Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano, but another moment of magic from talisman Messi ensured the LaLiga champions leapfrogged Real Madrid in the standings.

Asked about five-time Ballon d'Or winner Messi post-match, Valverde told reporters: "In games which are even and hard, to have Leo is always a huge advantage."

While Barca were second best to Atletico for periods of the blockbuster showdown in Madrid, Valverde was happy with his team.

"I liked everything. We suffered at the start and we've got the three points," Valverde said. "We don't have to think about the bad things now."

Valverde added: "You have to suffer here but we have won and picked up three really important points, which is what is important.

"We expected Atletico to start as they did. We had to be strong in the first 20 minutes. They were doing damage on every attack. As the game went on, we got more control and both sides had clear chances. We had the better of the second half." 

Valverde also allayed injury concerns over Gerard Pique, who was forced off with seven minutes remaining in the Spanish capital.

"I think he's OK," the Spaniard said. "He could have carried on, but better not to risk him."

Barcelona defender Sergi Roberto claimed his side's 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid on Sunday could prove a pivotal moment in the LaLiga title race.

The Catalan club were second best for much of the fixture at the Wanda Metropolitano but Lionel Messi scored a dramatic winner four minutes from time.

It helped Barca leapfrog Real Madrid back to the top of the table – albeit on goal difference – but provided a huge psychological boost.

"We knew that their fans were going to pressure us and it was the case," Roberto told Marca.

"Matches like these are where the league can be decided, and we have had to suffer to win.

"But there is a long way to go, and many teams will pose a threat."

Roberto said he could not choose between Messi and Marc-Andre ter Stegen as Barcelona's man of the match.

Argentina forward Messi scored Barcelona's winner with a stunning curling effort.

However, Barcelona were indebted to Ter Stegen's heroics in goal as he pulled off two incredible saves to deny Mario Hermoso and Alvaro Morata.

"Marc has made two good saves and Messi has decided the game," added the 27-year-old.

"It is a victory for the group. Atletico have pressurised us a lot. They created a couple of very clear chances."

Atletico's Saul Niguez felt Messi was the biggest factor in the Catalan side's victory.

"The one who makes the difference is Leo," Saul said.

"Because he is the one who gets it. Ter Stegen has managed to get a couple of balls, fortunately, although another has been with great quality. For me, the best has been Messi.

"We have played a great game, Barcelona has not had many chances, but when it appears Leo is able to do what he does with terrible ease, that's why he is the best.

"The team has given everything, but what counts is the victory."

Ter Stegen said he was just doing his job when asked about his brilliance between the posts.

The Germany international believes the victory over Atletico will boost Barcelona's confidence for the challenges ahead.

"These matches make us grow as a team and that is what it is about," Ter Stegen added.

"We knew that it is a very difficult game. It is normal that they have made chances, because they have a lot of quality.

"But defensively we have played well and in the end we have scored a goal that helped win an important game."

It was all so predictable. From Lionel Messi's late heroics to Antoine Griezmann's frosty reception and his subsequent stunted display, very little about Barcelona's 1-0 win at Atletico Madrid on Sunday was even remotely surprising.

If it wasn't already, this had been arguably the most anticipated non-Clasico match in the Spanish football calendar ever since Griezmann's July move was confirmed.

That transfer ended a protracted saga that included one new contract, a 'documentary' and allegations of deception and shady negotiations.

Although Griezmann opted to remain with Atletico last season, documenting in excruciating detail his thought process in 'Le Decision', that contrived and narcissistic video certainly damaged his relationship with Colchoneros fans.

Perception of Griezmann worsened after it was alleged Barca and Griezmann began discussions before his release clause dropped from €200million to €120m, leaving Atletico adamant they were owed a further €80m.

If they didn't enjoy the soap opera that was the transfer saga, Atletico fans may at least have taken a hint of pleasure in Griezmann's early struggles at Barca.

The Frenchman doesn't appear to have improved them in any way, and that was the overriding feeling again after on Sunday.

Perhaps his sheepishness could be put down to the vociferous welcome reserved for him from the home support, some of whom added certain decorations to Griezmann's plaque outside the stadium before the match.

Every player to represent Atletico 100 times is honoured with a plaque outside their new stadium, though toy rats and a red cross were the most prominent new additions to Griezmann's on Sunday.

The abuse and scorn surely would've gone into overdrive had he found the net, though in reality he never looked a threat.

As has been the case for much of his career, Griezmann is at his most deadly when occupying a central position, where he can exploit even minimal spaces and do the unexpected.

Before the interval, however, he only popped up in such a position once, as he took up possession and found Luis Suarez, who lashed just wide from distance.

Otherwise he spent most of his time isolated and offering little on the left flank, the match passing him by.

After a cagey start to the second half, proceedings began to open up around the hour mark and you could be forgiven for expecting that to play into the hands of Griezmann and Barca.

Yet Griezmann remained on the periphery, barely making a squeak as chaos roared around him, the visitors clinging on for dear life.

"You wanted to be a name and you forgot to be a man," read a banner unfurled by Atletico fans, but he's failing to live up to his name at Barca.

He might have seen an opportunity for glory deep into the second half when he appeared to make a great run in behind Kieran Trippier, needing only to be fed by the marauding Messi.

But instead of slipping Griezmann through, which seemed to be the easier option, Messi used Suarez.

There was one exchange of passes and then – whack! Messi found the bottom-left corner, opting to stick to the tried and tested combination of himself and Suarez.

The ineffectiveness of Griezmann's display was entirely in keeping with the rest of his Barca career.

Suarez was the only outfield Blaugrana player – excluding substitutes – who touched the ball fewer times than Griezmann, yet the Uruguayan still proved more effective, teeing up Messi for that winner.

Although a night that began with a chorus of jeers ended with an embrace from Messi, Griezmann is feeling anything but the love after choosing to "be a name" at Barca.

Lionel Messi scored a dramatic late winner as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium to return to the summit of LaLiga on Sunday.

Real Madrid had temporarily claimed top spot on Saturday after a 2-1 win at Alaves but Barca's victory put them ahead on goal difference.

Atletico had enjoyed the best of the chances in an engrossing contest but remain winless in 19 LaLiga games against the Catalans.

Ernesto Valverdes's side were indebted to goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen for two breath-taking saves in the first half.

Barcelona midfielder Arturo Vidal is a player many teams would like to sign, according to Inter CEO Giuseppe Marotta.

Vidal featured in 13 of Barca's 18 matches this season prior to Sunday's trip to Atletico Madrid, though just four of those appearances have been starts.

The Chile international this week vowed to leave Camp Nou next year should he fail to be given more minutes by Ernesto Valverde, despite having 18 months to run on his contract.

Inter have been tipped to move for Vidal, who worked with Marotta and head coach Antonio Conte at Juventus, but the Nerazzurri chief said his Barcelona deal must be respected.

"He is an important player on the world stage and both Conte and I are tied to him because of our great past together," Marotta told Sky Sport Italia.

"We have great considerations of him. I think a lot of teams would like to sign him, but unfortunately he's at Barcelona. However, thoughts can certainly be made."

Inter beat SPAL 2-1 on Sunday through a Lautaro Martinez brace to leapfrog Juventus at the Serie A summit.

Clashes between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are always fascinating occasions, with two completely different philosophies pitted against each other.

But Sunday's contest at the Wanda Metropolitano will be intriguing for an entirely new reason – the return of Antoine Griezmann.

The France international's move to Barca was somewhat acrimonious, with Atletico convinced he was talking to his new club long before his release clause dropped from €200million to €120m.

Atletico fans had long been frustrated with Griezmann's behaviour, particularly after his 'Decision' documentary last year showed him considering a move before eventually signing a new deal.

Yet, for all the build-up, drama and soap opera-like twists and turns, Griezmann's adaptation at Camp Nou has been underwhelming.

Ahead of Griezmann's return to the Wanda, we took a look at Opta data to examine how Barca are faring since signing the forward, whether Atletico are suffering without him and how he is doing individually.

Griezmann struggling to influence

It's difficult to find evidence that shows Griezmann has improved Barca in any way. The data suggests they are less effective with him in the team.

Across Barca's 61 matches last season, they averaged 2.3 goals and 2.2 points per match. Both figures have dropped, to 2.2 and 2.1, respectively, while they're winning with less regularity as well, down to 64.7 per cent from 67.2 per cent.

It's a similar story with respect to shots, with their average per match now 11.9 with Griezmann. Last season they recorded 15.3 attempts per game.

In Griezmann's 17 games for Barca, they have a passing accuracy of 78.6 per cent in the final third and 84.4 per cent in the opposing half. Once again, those figures are less than last term (79.2 per cent and 85.1 per cent).

While it would be unfair to suggest Griezmann is to blame in every area, a lack of fluency and effectiveness in Barca's attack this season is difficult to deny.

Yet to find his niche

A relative decrease in productivity can be expected to a certain degree when changing teams, particularly given the contrasting styles imposed by Atletico and Barca, but few would have predicted Griezmann's individual contributions to suffer as much as they have.

At Atletico last term, Griezmann scored 21 goals, laid on 11 assists and created 88 chances in 48 matches. As such, that equates to finding the net every 2.2 games, averaging 4.3 matches per assist and crafting 1.8 opportunities per outing.

This season, Griezmann has scored five times, got three assists and created 12 chances in 17 games.

That means he is only scoring once every 3.4 matches, almost double his record for last term, averaging 5.6 games per assist and laying on just 0.7 chances in each match.

Barca more lethal without Griezy

Griezmann has been out of the starting XI three times for Barca this season and the data does him few favours.

Barca have a 100 per cent winning record and average 4.0 goals in those games, double what they have been scoring with him in the line-up.

Without Griezmann Barca are averaging 15.3 shots each match, a 3.8 increase than when he does feature in the starting XI.

Barca have seen less of the ball across those matches, registering 54.4 per cent possession compared to 65.1 per cent with Griezmann. However, that metric combined with their shot average suggests the Blaugrana are more ponderous and less incisive when the Frenchman plays.

A new era

Atletico have seen a slight decrease across some areas compared to last season since Griezmann's exit.

When the France star featured for Simeone's men, they averaged 1.5 goals and 2.0 points per match. Their figures are down to 1.3 and 1.9, respectively, this term, while Atleti's win percentage is down from 56.2 per cent to 50 per cent.

But the difference in many other areas is negligible, and in fact, they are averaging more shots and conceding fewer efforts at goal since Griezmann left.

At the moment it seems Atletico are slightly less clinical and decisive without Griezmann, though it's difficult to argue they are actually missing him. At least, not the Griezmann who featured for them in 2018-19.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes voting for the Ballon d'Or should be easy, saying Lionel Messi deserved to win the award.

Messi, 32, is tipped to win a record sixth Ballon d'Or in Paris on Monday after enjoying another stellar year.

Valverde, whose team visit Atletico Madrid in LaLiga on Sunday, said voting should be no problem as Messi is the world's best player.

"I don't follow these awards galas because they are too long. My vote, well, I guess, is the same as yours," he told a news conference.

"I would vote for the best, obviously. Ever year you always vote depending on how the seasons have gone for the players.

"But if you have to give it to the best, let's just give it to Messi and the problem is solved."

Ahead of their trip to the Wanda Metropolitano, Barcelona are second in LaLiga, three points behind rivals Real Madrid.

Ousmane Dembele's latest injury lay-off has affected the player and represents a "big loss" for Barcelona, according to head coach Ernesto Valverde.

The 22-year-old injured his right hamstring in the first half of Barca's 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday and is expected to be sidelined until February.

It is the latest in a string of fitness issues Dembele has suffered since his €105million transfer from Dortmund in August 2017, including three thigh problems, two damaged hamstrings and an ankle sprain.

Valverde is unsure why the France international has been regularly struck down by injuries over the past few seasons and wants others to fill the void.

"I'm not a specialist in muscle fibres," he said at Saturday's news conference. "I say that everything comes from the first injury. I do not have a concrete idea [of why he picks up these injuries]. He is a very explosive player.

"I've talked to him. Now he is calmer after the injury, but he was very affected especially by the repetition [of a muscular injury]. We'll try to cover for the loss with players from the B team, who are responding by playing at a good level.

"It's clear that when he arrived here two years ago, he had to get used to our style and fit in here. It is true that he was improving, being calm, training well. He is a big loss and it's an unexpected setback."

Dembele will be unavailable during a tricky run of fixtures for LaLiga's champions, who face Atletico Madrid on Sunday before matches against Mallorca, Inter, Real Sociedad and Real Madrid.

Barca have come from behind to draw 1-1 on their previous two trips to Wanda Metropolitano and Valverde expects another tough test this weekend.

"In both games we fell behind and we had to come back, but they followed a very similar pattern," he said on the eve of the match. 

"We took the initiative, but they hurt us by attacking us. It is possible that it will become like this or that there is some modification tomorrow. They are good in attack and strong in defence, very cohesive. It'll be an attractive match.

"Any match at Atletico's ground is important for everyone. It is one of the important matches for everyone and we have to play well."

Arturo Vidal is expected to be part of Barcelona's travelling squad, despite suggesting this week that he will force through a move next year if he is not given more playing time.

Valverde does not believe the Chile international is pressuring him into getting more minutes, however, adding: "I don't think so. It's more a personal reflection. The transfer market isn't open yet, so when it starts we'll see.

"He fitted in well from the beginning. When he arrived he already knew that he was coming to a team that had won the league and cup.

"He found his place. The great players want to play, there is a lot of competition, but I reiterate that the market has not opened yet."

Diego Simeone has challenged his side to be more aggressive at both ends of the pitch when Barcelona visit the Wanda Metropolitano.

While the Rojiblancos have been typically dogged at the back so far this campaign, conceding just nine goals in 14 games, they have struggled badly in front of goal.

They drew another blank in their 1-0 Champions League defeat to Juventus in midweek and are the least prolific of all bar one team among LaLiga's top 13 sides.

Simeone was happy with this team's display in Turin and wants to see a similar approach against Ernesto Valverde's side, albeit with added intensity in both penalty areas.

"We want to score more goals and be more aggressive in both penalty areas, which is where the games are resolved," he told a media conference.

"We work to compete in the best way and we want to win the match. We played well in Turin and hopefully we will do the same but with a different result."

Atleti have come in for criticism this season after winning just six of their opening 14 LaLiga games.

Simeone has pointed to a number of injuries to key players, though, and says he is broadly happy with how his side have done in the opening months of the campaign.

"I am clear about the goals for the club and what the club needs to achieve them," he added. 

"We have had to play without Stefan Savic, Jose Gimenez and Diego Costa. These are situations that one cannot imagine at the start of the season, although it can happen.

"The team is competing well and I hope I can have a game like in Turin, but with another result."

Ousmane Dembele will receive treatment on his injured hamstring at a sports medicine hospital in Qatar, Barcelona have confirmed.

Dembele is expected to be sidelined until February by the injury to his right hamstring, which he sustained during the first half of Barca's 3-1 win over his former club Borussia Dortmund on Wednesday.

The 22-year-old will be unavailable during a tricky run of fixtures for the LaLiga champions, who face Atletico Madrid on Sunday before matches against Mallorca, Inter, Real Sociedad and Real Madrid.

Dembele's injury is the latest in a string of fitness issues he has suffered since his €105million transfer from Dortmund in August 2017, including three thigh problems, two damaged hamstrings and an ankle sprain.

A statement on the club's official website said: "Ousmane Dembele is to begin treatment on his right hamstring injury on Sunday, alternating between Aspetar Orthopaedic and Sports Medicine Hospital in Qatar and work closer to home at the Ciutat Esportiva Joan Gamper.

"The entire recovery programme is being supervised and run by the FC Barcelona medical services.

"The initial forecast is that the player will be out of action for around 10 weeks."

Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu has no doubt Lionel Messi is the greatest player of all-time.

Messi, 32, is tipped to win a record sixth Ballon d'Or on Monday after enjoying another fine year.

The Argentina forward is often discussed among the greatest players ever, alongside the likes of Diego Maradona, Pele and Cristiano Ronaldo.

But Bartomeu, whose club celebrated their 120th anniversary on Friday, has no doubt.

"Without a doubt Leo Messi is the best player in football history, he has made a huge mark on the world of football," he told the club's website.

"There is no club in the world that has had as much success as Barca, with a player that has won six Golden Boots or has five Ballon d'Or awards.

"He is a different player, who changes the dynamics of a game and creates incredible moments.

"It has helped us to be more global and, compared to other times, has created a very strong era and we will be transformed by this era of the team and Messi."

Barcelona are top of LaLiga ahead of visiting Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

Cristiano Ronaldo's decision to leave Real Madrid for Juventus "should be appreciated", Andre Villas-Boas said as the Marseille coach backed the star to win the Ballon d'Or.

Barcelona star Lionel Messi is tipped to win the award for a record sixth time in Paris on Monday.

Ronaldo is also a five-time winner of the prize, but has not been as prolific since joining Juve from Madrid in 2018.

However, Villas-Boas backed his fellow Portuguese, although he labelled both Ronaldo and Messi as extraterrestrials.

"It's difficult... I am Portuguese so of course I support Ronaldo more," he said.

"Cristiano took a risk by leaving the best team in the world, with more titles in the world. That kind of risk should be appreciated. Playing in Italy and scoring goals is difficult.

"Messi is still in his club, Barcelona, which is a big club. He is able to make the difference.

"But I am more for Cristiano because I'm Portuguese. Both of them are exceptional, it's difficult to choose. It [Ballon d'Or] will become a competition between them.

"Having these two players in the same generation and watching them is absolutely incredible. They are extraterrestrials."

Barcelona forward Ousmane Dembele is likely to be out for up to 10 weeks with a thigh injury, the club have confirmed.

The France international was forced off in the first half of Wednesday's 3-1 Champions League win over former club Borussia Dortmund.

Barca announced on Friday that Dembele has damaged his right hamstring and is expected to be out of action until February.

Dembele is due to miss a difficult run of matches for the LaLiga champions, who face Atletico Madrid, Real Mallorca, Real Sociedad, Real Madrid and Deportivo Alaves before the mid-season break.

He will also sit out the Champions League visit to Inter on December 10 and is highly likely to be unavailable for the revamped Supercopa de Espana, with Barca facing Atletico in the semi-final on January 8.

Dembele, who has started only three league games this season, has seen his Barca career blighted by injuries since he joined from Dortmund for an initial €105million.

The 22-year-old has had three previous thigh problems and twice damaged hamstrings, while he also suffered an ankle sprain in January.

Barca travel to Atleti on Sunday looking to secure their place at the top of the table.The champions are level on 28 points with Madrid after 13 games, with Atleti three points adrift of the leaders and one behind Sevilla.

 

Arturo Vidal has vowed to leave Barcelona next year if he is not made to "feel important" by the LaLiga champions.

The Chile international has featured in 13 of Barca's 18 matches this season, though just four of those appearances have been starts.

Vidal arrived at Camp Nou from Bayern Munich in 2018 and has another 18 months to run on his contract, but the 32-year-old will consider an early exit if he is not given more minutes.

"I would like to be here forever, but I have to be objective and live day to day," he told Televisio de Catalunya.

"If in December or at the end of the season I do not feel important here, I will look for a solution and expand my horizons [in order] to be important."

Barcelona are top of LaLiga and through to the last 16 of the Champions League with a game to spare, but Vidal acknowledged performances have not been good enough.

"One could say that everything is fine but, clearly, the team, to achieve our goals, to lift the trophy at the end of the season, have to improve a lot," he said.

"We're on time. We have to begin giving the maximum or working much more.

"The Champions League looks pretty tough. There are very strong teams. Liverpool already showed last year that they were physically superior."

Barcelona return to action on Sunday with a trip to title rivals Atletico Madrid.

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