Joao Felix is perhaps feeling the pressure of the "economic impact" from his move to Atletico Madrid but he can emulate Antoine Griezmann in becoming a star for Diego Simeone's side, says Abel Xavier.

The Portugal sensation was one of the most sought-after players of the previous close season prior to joining Atleti, who paid €126million to Benfica for his signature.

There have been flashes of the brilliance that saw Atleti stump up that huge sum, though six goals and a solitary assist from 24 LaLiga appearances - prior to Tuesday's clash with Barcelona - is hardly the most fruitful return.

Former Portugal international Xavier is convinced Joao Felix will adapt to life at the Wanda Metropolitano, though, and is sure it remains the right environment for the 20-year-old to flourish.

"There is a great hope on Felix because of his move to Atletico [but] the economic impact of his value is giving him too much pressure," Xavier told Stats Perform News.

"He needs to find the correct surrounding to be able to realise the potential of his own game. 

"That is going to be the next step with him, especially at Atletico Madrid with their philosophy and style of play.

"I admire Simeone a lot. There are a lot of people who do not like the identity of his game because he's very effective. At the end of the day he's fighting for the big trophies.

"But when you are integrating a big player, a fantasy player, a player who likes to have the ball…it's a process also for Felix to work on different aspects of the game.

"Maybe he was not used to defending so much without the ball. He needs to have the ball.

"For that reason I think it's a good process that will build him in different aspects to become stronger.  

"He's going to be one of the greatest in the future, for sure, with the correct set-up and style of play collectively."

Some pundits have questioned whether Joao Felix was right to move to Atleti and his name was linked tentatively with Manchester United during the coronavirus-enforced shutdown.

Xavier doubts anyone would pay more for his services than Atleti did, though, and said Joao Felix can become key for Simeone, just as Griezmann did for five seasons before joining Barcelona last year.

"It's very difficult at this present moment that someone can come and pay more than what Atletico paid for him," Xavier said. 

"He needs right now to be focused on his game. He's had a few injuries also, which is not a good sign. He needs to find stability and consistency. 

"Atletico right now is the best place for him. Stay two or three years and be the main figure in the same way that Antoine Griezmann was."

Barcelona's huge LaLiga clash with Atletico Madrid will take place behind closed doors on Tuesday, but the champions have come up with a way for some fans to have a presence in the stands.

The Catalan giants have placed 3,000 personalised shirts on seats behind both goals and in the Lateral stand at Camp Nou as part of its 'We All Play' campaign.

Supporters were able to buy a special edition home jersey with their chosen name and number on to occupy a place in the stadium.

Barca confirmed part of the proceeds will be donated to charitable projects aimed at fighting the spread of coronavirus through its foundation.

A club statement read: "This is unquestionably one of the biggest games left for this final stretch of the season, and the players aren't going to be alone.

"Thanks to the 'We All Play' campaign, 3,000 fans will be able to symbolically 'enter' the stadium in the form of personalised shirts laid out in the terraces.

"Once the game is over, the shirts will be cleaned and disinfected and sent over the course of the following days to the fans' home addresses.

"They will also be emailed a link to a gygaphoto in which they will be able to locate their shirt in the ground as a souvenir of their testimonial 'attendance' of the match."

Barca fell two points adrift of LaLiga leaders Real Madrid at the weekend but have an opportunity to reclaim top spot by beating third-placed Atletico.

Club captain Lionel Messi will reach 700 goals in professional football if he hits the target at Camp Nou.

Diego Simeone tried to sidestep a question relating to reports Barcelona coach Quique Setien has lost the support of key players but emphasised the importance of managing a squad's emotions.

Barca host Simeone's Atletico Madrid on Tuesday amid a difficult situation, with media reports claiming Setien and his coaching staff are at odds with key players.

A clip from Barca's 2-2 draw with Celta Vigo on Saturday went viral on social media due to it appearing to show Lionel Messi ignoring Setien's assistant Eder Sarabia.

Although Setien conceded it is normal to have occasional differences, he insisted the squad is unified despite the apparent issue with Sarabia and the fact certain publications have suggested the head coach himself has a strained relationship with Messi.

Simeone, who is rarely forthcoming regarding internal matters in news conferences, was typically reluctant to appear as if he was offering an opinion on Barca's problems, though he did stress the importance of squad harmony.

"You know me, I don't give my opinion on what's going on in other dressing rooms," Simeone told a news conference on Monday.

"I just make an opinion on ours. We need to keep it protected, always take care of it and always manage the feeling of the players, which is the most important for a squad.

"The most important thing is to manage, in my team, the emotional part, which I consider to be the key part."

When asked how he would solve issues similar to those appearing at Barca, he added: "I wouldn't tell you, and I would try to solve it naturally in our camp, which is the dressing room or the training session.

"A cup of coffee could also be there in any informal chat that could help for solving any internal issue."

Arthur is part of Barcelona's squad to face Atletico Madrid on Tuesday despite the Brazil midfielder's €70million move to Juventus reportedly being close to completion.

Juve's Miralem Pjanic is set to move in the other direction, although both players will conclude the 2019-20 campaign at their current clubs.

Arthur was seen giving a speech to his team-mates at Barcelona's training session on Monday – an act that has been widely interpreted as the 23-year-old saying his goodbyes to a dressing room he joined in July 2018 from Gremio.

"I have no doubt about his greatest commitment until the last day he is here," Barca head coach Quique Setien told a pre-match news conference.

"He is a player until the last game of the season He has committed himself to being one more [member of the squad].

"He will dedicate himself fully to achieving the objectives. I have no doubts about him.

"He has said that he will be in the best conditions. I'll decide if he plays more or less."

Sergi Roberto is back in the Barca squad to face Atletico having sat out three matches with a fractured rib.

Two draws in their past three games have left the reigning champions two points behind Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga with six matches remaining, heightening speculation that Setien will be dismissed at the end of the season despite only being in post since January.

Barcelona head coach Quique Setien insists there are no problems between Lionel Messi and his coaching staff amid reports of behind-the-scenes unrest at Camp Nou. 

Barca have struggled for their best form since LaLiga's resumption and draws at Sevilla and Celta Vigo – either side of a laboured 1-0 home win over Athletic Bilbao – have handed Real Madrid the initiative in the title race. 

Zinedine Zidane's men are two points ahead with six matches remaining, while also holding a superior head-to-head record from this season's Clasico meetings. 

Having twice surrendered a lead in their 2-2 draw against Celta last time out, Barca face a tough assignment at home to in-form Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. 

Messi was seen apparently ignoring instructions from Setien's number two Eder Sarabia during the drinks break at Balaidos, where heated words were allegedly exchanged in the dressing room after the game. 

Speaking at a pre-match news conference for Atleti's visit, Setien insisted Messi and the squad are united in the battle to retain their title. 

"In reality it is true that there are always controversies, as in life, and it is normal that there are differences," he said of the Messi-Sarabia incident. 

"But this has always happened. I was not an easy player either. What we have to try to do is to convince everyone of the common idea.  

"I understand it as something natural. There is good communication. I don't give it any importance." 

Setien believes issues being raised within the camp should not be considered a surprise after dropping points in a high-pressure title race.

"When there are no wins and you don't win, everyone gets a point across," he said. "The relationship we have with the staff is good. It is true that at specific moments we do not agree.

"Yesterday we talked about many topics but we focused on the topic of football. We have to improve and do things better. 

"The situation we are experiencing, in which we are superior but do not generate goals, frustrates us. But the situations are normal. It is something we can change."

Atletico are on a run of four consecutive victories, having drawn their initial game back after the resumption to the season.

"They are a great team, very easily identified with their way of doing things," Setien added.

"They are going to make things very complicated for us. Winning is a tremendously decisive question because anything can happen but every time the matches are reduced and the margin [in the title race] is less. 

"We give due importance to this game as to others."

Saul Niguez urged Atletico Madrid to continue their good run of form after a 2-1 win over Deportivo Alaves in LaLiga on Saturday.

Atletico consolidated third spot in the table courtesy of their fourth straight win as Saul and Diego Costa, the latter via the penalty spot, scored at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Saul was pleased to get on the scoresheet and called for Atletico to keep pushing ahead of Tuesday's clash with Barcelona.

"I'm very happy to have scored the opener. Scoring without our fans feels totally different, but it gave us the lead. It also generated spaces because they were defending deep and it was hard," the midfielder said.

"When we went 1-0 up, they left more spaces and allowed us to attack them in different ways. In the first half we were up against a side with six defenders and everyone else in the middle of the pitch.

"Sometimes we didn't interpret correctly what had to be done, because we tried to attack them through the middle. There was more space down the wings.

"I think we didn't play badly in the first half despite being 0-0. I think we did quite well, but it's difficult to unravel the opposition when they have six defenders and are fresh. That happens to us and to everyone else.

"We're going to enjoy this good win. I think it's the first time we won four straight games this season. We're enjoying a positive streak and have to continue like this. If we do, we'll reach our goal."

While Joselu scored a late spot-kick for Alaves, Atletico are now four points clear of fourth-placed Sevilla.

Atletico coach Diego Simeone talked up the importance of the win and is prepared for another difficult encounter at Camp Nou.

"The next game will be really tough, like every time we play in Barcelona," he said.

"Now it's time to rest and prepare, so that we arrive in the best possible shape."

Atletico Madrid took a big step towards sealing Champions League qualification as they defeated Deportivo Alaves in a 2-1 LaLiga win at Wanda Metropolitano.

After a low-key start to Saturday's contest, a Saul Niguez header just before the hour mark put the hosts in front.

Two Atleti substitutes played a part in the second as Diego Costa converted a penalty won by Marcos Llorente to wrap up what ultimately proved to be a comfortable victory for Diego Simeone's side.

Joselu scored a stoppage-time penalty for the visitors, but Atletico are now four points clear of Sevilla in fourth and have opened up a superb nine-point cushion over Getafe in fifth.

Alvaro Morata sent an early header just wide, shortly before his flick-on to fellow forward Joao Felix saw the Portugal international send an impressive acrobatic effort narrowly off target.

Jose Maria Gimenez put a free header over from 12 yards and, despite their opponents defending deeply, it was Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak who had the only first-half save to make from Aleix Vidal.

Diego Simeone brought on Costa and Llorente early in the second half as he attempted to inject life into the hosts and the latter made an instant impression, winning a free-kick down the right.

Kieran Trippier sent in a fine delivery and the onrushing Saul converted with a thumping header from six yards for his fourth goal of season, keeper Fernando Pacheco getting a hand to it but unable to make the save.

Alaves almost levelled when a powerful aerial effort from Oliver Burke flew inches wide, but Atleti soon threatened at the other end when Llorente's long-range effort forced Pacheco to parry.

Llorente then showed superb pace and skill down the right before drawing a foul from Ruben Duarte, with Costa sending Pacheco the wrong way from the spot 17 minutes from time.

Three minutes into added time, Joselu sent a fine penalty into the top corner after Koke was penalised for handball, but it was too late for the visitors to recover.


What does it mean? Atletico impressing since lockdown

Atletico took the chance to extend their advantage over Sevilla, who could only draw with Real Valladolid on Friday, and now look almost certain to claim a Champions League spot.

They have impressed since LaLiga resumed after the coronavirus-enforced break – having drawn their first game back, they have won four straight games, with only the late spot-kick denying them a fourth straight clean sheet.

Llorente lifts Atletico

Former Real Madrid midfielder Llorente changed the game when he came on, winning the free-kick and penalty that led to each goal, as well as testing Pacheco with a rasping drive.

Correa struggles to make an impact

Angel Correa only had one blocked shot and 10 completed passes to show for his 57 minutes on the pitch, though he was not the only one to blame for a sluggish Atletico start.

What's next?

Atletico needed points in this match as their next one is a huge test away to Barcelona on Tuesday. Alaves, meanwhile, are at home to Granada a day later as they bid to halt a run of three straight defeats.

Achraf Hakimi appears to have found a new home.

The Morocco international has impressed during his loan spell at Borussia Dortmund, attracting plenty of interest.

But LaLiga giants Real Madrid are reportedly ready to cash in on Achraf.

 

TOP STORY – INTER AGREE ACHRAF DEAL

Inter have agreed a deal to sign Achraf Hakimi from Real Madrid, according to Sky Sport Italia.

Achraf has spent the past two seasons on loan at Borussia Dortmund, who have been interested in signing the Morocco international permanently.

Chelsea and Paris Saint-Germain have been among the clubs interested in Achraf, but Madrid are set to sell the 21-year-old to Antonio Conte's Inter for a reported €40million fee.

 

ROUND-UP

- Sport1 claims Leroy Sane's proposed move to Bayern Munich is on hold until 2021. The Manchester City star is tipped to leave the Etihad Stadium for Bundesliga champions Bayern, though the two clubs have been unable to strike a deal. Sane now looks likely to depart once his contract expires next year.

Arthur will travel to Turin in the coming days to undergo a medical ahead of his move to Juventus, according to RAC1. Barcelona midfielder Arthur is set to join Juve, with Miralem Pjanic moving in the opposite direction.

Roma are plotting a move for free agent Edinson Cavani, says Calciomercato. Cavani is available on a free transfer after leaving PSG, with Atletico Madrid, Inter and Napoli eyeing the Uruguayan forward.

- Sport reports the Champions League will determine Neymar's future at PSG. Neymar has long been linked with a return to Barca following his world-record departure in 2017.

- Calciomercato says Milan are focused on signing Salzburg sensation Dominik Szoboszlai. However, PSG and Arsenal are also among the teams eyeing the 19-year-old Hungarian.

Manchester United are among the possible destinations for Arsenal midfielder Matteo Guendouzi, who faces an uncertain future with the London club, according to L'Equipe.

Diego Simeone has challenged Thomas Lemar to show he is worthy of a place at Atletico Madrid.

France winger Lemar was one of the stars of Monaco's unlikely 2016-17 Ligue 1 title triumph but has found life tough since moving to Atleti two years ago.

The 24-year-old has not scored in 26 appearances across all competitions this season and has been an unused substitute in two of Atletico's four La Liga games since the campaign resumed earlier this month.

His sole start during this period came against Real Valladolid, when he was substituted before Vitolo found a late winner.

Speaking ahead of Saturday's game against Deportivo Alaves at the Wanda Metropolitano, Simeone insisted he was satisfied with Lemar's performances in training but wants to see them replicated on a matchday.

"With Lemar we have tried and we continue trying to find a way that he can express on the field everything that excites us, from what we see in training," he said of a player he stated "hasn't been able to live up to expectations" earlier this year.

"We have shown him confidence, he has played important games and it will depend on what he manages to claim in his mind, in his inner strength.

"He knows that it depends on him because we have demonstrated that we have confidence in his football abilities."

Ten points from a possible 12 since the resumption have strengthened Atletico's hand in terms of qualifying for next season's Champions League.

They sit third, six points clear of Getafe in fifth with seven matches remaining.

However, the visit of 14th-placed Alaves should not necessarily be treated as a formality, given their habit of dropping points against teams in the lower reaches of the table this term.

"I do not find anything significant in that," Simeone countered.

"I do understand that in these games we could not be forceful and when you are not, the games are long and all the teams are competitive, whether they are down or up because they have important players."

Diego Simeone hopes Marcos Llorente can continue to maintain the same high standards after once again playing a starring role for Atletico Madrid on Tuesday. 

Llorente was signed from rivals Real Madrid as a holding midfielder but has adapted to a more advanced role in the second half of the 2019-20 season. 

The 25-year-old scored twice in a stunning Champions League win at Liverpool and has been brilliant since LaLiga returned to action amid the coronavirus pandemic. 

Indeed, Llorente created Atleti's winner - an own goal - as they defeated Levante 1-0 on the road, their third straight success since the resumed to leave his side in third spot. 

Simeone believes Llorente is gaining the rewards for his hard work, having stuck with the team through a tough first half of the campaign. 

"The facts speak for themselves," Simeone said. "It is not necessary to praise [Llorente] when you can watch his movement, attitude, pressure and see what is happening to him. 

"Hopefully he can maintain this consistency, because he worked a lot. He suffered a lot because he played little since he arrived. 

"After seeing how he worked in training, we tried to put him further on from the Liverpool game and we found a different characteristic from those of [forwards Angel] Correa, Joao [Felix], [Diego] Costa and [Alvaro] Morata. 

"He gives us a more important footballer in the team." 

With the media's focus trained on Llorente, Simeone added: "He created this situation after so much effort. 

"He was always training well, without protesting or having a bad attitude after being left out a lot of times. In the end, the people who work are always rewarded." 

Meanwhile, victory against Levante brought up a special milestone for Simeone, his 194th LaLiga victory as Atleti coach tying the late Luis Aragones' club record. 

Simeone said: "At no time did I plan to compete with Luis. I know, with the relationship that I had with him, that he will be happy from where he is watching. I have no doubt that he will be enjoying it. 

"It is always important to win. In the last five games, we played four away and we won three and we drew one. We are changing that situation that was costing us so much." 

Atletico Madrid again etched Diego Simeone's name into their record books as they defeated Levante on Tuesday.

A vital victory in the chase for Champions League qualification represented a landmark for iconic head coach Simeone in LaLiga.

The 1-0 win - secured thanks to an early own goal - was Simeone's 194th in the league as Atleti boss, matching Luis Aragones' record haul.

After three consecutive triumphs following the resumption of football in Spain, the 2013-14 title-winning coach reached the total in his 319th LaLiga match.

Aragones - the club's record goalscorer as a player - had four stints as Atleti coach, winning LaLiga in 1976-77, but required 407 games to tally 194 top-flight wins.

Simeone will have the opportunity to claim top spot outright when his side host Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid took another significant step towards Champions League qualification with a 1-0 victory at Levante.

Diego Simeone's Atleti were sixth in LaLiga just a week ago but have since won three on the bounce without conceding to steal a march on their rivals and go third.

Marcos Llorente - this season's Champions League hero in the last 16 against Liverpool - was the star of the show on Tuesday, providing both style and substance as he had a hand in an early Bruno Gonzalez own goal.

Atleti were dominant throughout but failed to build on that opener - kept at bay by an all-action display from Levante goalkeeper Aitor Fernandez - in a deserved yet ultimately slightly nervy away success.

Swiftly stamping his mark on the match, Llorente had tested Aitor inside 30 seconds and soon forged the breakthrough with a sublime piece of close control.

The midfielder took a powerful 15th-minute pass in his stride as he turned into the area and then squared as Aitor advanced, forcing Ruben Vezo to clumsily turn the ball towards his own goal, although Bruno contributed an unwitting final touch.

Aitor did his utmost to keep the scoring down as he parried shots from Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Partey either side of the goal, while both Diego Costa and Llorente were wasteful from promising positions.

The Levante goalkeeper smartly saved again from Carrasco before the interval, which failed to disrupt the visitors' momentum as only an offside flag denied Thomas a fierce second.

Aitor bailed out Jose Campana after his error presented an opportunity to fellow substitute Joao Felix, who later blazed over when Levante again failed to clear their lines, a miss that maintained the home side's interest in the closing stages despite their failure to test Jan Oblak.


What does it mean? Atleti back on track

After spending big ahead of this season, it was crucial Atletico secured Champions League qualification - regardless of the success or otherwise of their ongoing European campaign. Their status in next season's competition looked in some doubt as the season restarted, but Simeone and his side have enjoyed an excellent week.

Llorente loving new role

Signed from rivals Real Madrid as a holding midfielder, Llorente is now making his name in an advanced role. The 25-year-old turned in another impressive performance here. Indeed, rather than Joao Felix or Alvaro Morata, it is Llorente who looks best suited to partnering Costa in attack at present.

Forward fails to fire

Supposedly a more natural attacking option, Joao Felix is struggling to follow Llorente in improving as his first Atleti season wears on. After scoring twice against Osasuna, the Portuguese struggled at home to Real Valladolid and then, as a substitute here, failed to impress again. One poor miss stood out after replacing Llorente.

What's next?

Atletico face another side stuck in mid-table with little to play for next: Deportivo Alaves visit the capital on Saturday. Meanwhile, Levante are at home again against Real Betis the following day.

Diego Simeone believes Atletico Madrid's defensive resilience is merely a by-product of the players' commitment to his footballing vision.

Atleti edged a 1-0 win over Real Valladolid on Saturday, the first time they have recorded back-to-back LaLiga victories since beating Real Betis and Levante either side of the mid-season break.

A return encounter against the latter opponents is up next for Los Colchoneros, whose previous away fixture ended in a 5-0 shellacking of Osasuna.

The departures of Diego Godin and Lucas Hernandez last year forced Simeone to remodel his backline, with Stefan Savic and Jose Gimenez stepping up to form a fine alliance at centre-back, while Kieran Trippier and Renan Lodi have proved shrewd full-back additions.

Backed up by the exceptional Jan Oblak between the posts, Atletico have only been breached 22 times in 30 LaLiga games in 2019-20, although Simeone insists he is reluctant to rely too much on this obduracy.

"There will always be mistakes, all teams make mistakes," he told a pre-match news conference.

"We must try to be focused and, with the best security we can offer the team, we have rotated.

"I am still convinced that the team's strength is the emotional convention of the group. This will be the way to reach the goals we want."

That goal, at least until August's mini-tournament in Lisbon to conclude this season's competition comes around, is securing qualification for the Champions League with a top-four finish.

The weekend result left Atleti in third, level on points with Sevilla immediately behind them and six better off than Valencia down in eighth.

More sparkling form from Joao Felix would certainly strengthen their hand after the Portugal youngster notched a brace as Osasuna were torn apart.

"He is a different player," Simeone said of the €120million recruit, who has endured a mixed debut campaign in LaLiga.

"We have always valued him, we have seen him in training and in games. Surely, when he grows up and can spend more time in situations that are decisive for the team, he will continue to evolve.

"He has all the important qualities to break a game. With his growth in the game he will grow even more as a footballer."

Experience is certainly not something Joao Felix's boss lacks.

If Atleti are victorious against Levante, Simone will equal Luis Aragones as the coach with the most LaLiga victories for the club.

"I did not know about this and, as I have already said, I do not stop on the path we are going through," he added.

"This is not the time to stop and look in the mirror; it is only time to work, win and continue in the best possible way."

Dean Henderson has a decision to make as he continues to impress on loan at Sheffield United.

He is Manchester United's future number one, but Premier League rivals Chelsea are reportedly interested.

Could the 23-year-old goalkeeper swap Old Trafford for Stamford Bridge?

 

TOP STORY – UNITED AND CHELSEA IN TUG-OF-WAR OVER HENDERSON

Chelsea are trying to lure Dean Henderson away from Manchester United, according to The Sun.

Henderson has flourished at Sheffield United during his loan spell away from United.

Manchester United are offering Henderson a new contract amid doubts over David De Gea but Chelsea are reportedly plotting a big-money move for the Englishman.

 

ROUND-UP

- It appears as though Juventus will miss out on Barcelona midfielder Arthur. Marca says Arthur has rejected an annual salary of €5million to move to Turin.

- Liverpool are eyeing Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele after missing out on Timo Werner, claims Bleacher Report. Werner swapped RB Leipzig for Chelsea.

Inter are interested in Hertha Berlin's Matheus Cunha, reports Calciomercato. The 21-year-old Brazilian only arrived from Leipzig in January.

Jadon Sancho's head is already at Manchester United, according to German journalist Heiko Wasser. Borussia Dortmund star Sancho has been heavily tipped to join United, while the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Real Madrid are also eyeing the England international.

- Staying at San Siro and The Suns claims Inter want to sign Manchester City full-back Kyle Walker.

Dortmund have reached an agreement with Thomas Meunier to bring the Paris Saint-Germain full-back to the Bundesliga on a free transfer. It is also reported that Edinson Cavani will not sign a new deal and will sit out PSG's Champions League fixtures. He has been linked to Atletico Madrid and Inter.

- The Daily Mail says Juve are interested in bringing Wolves striker Raul Jimenez to Serie A amid interest from United and Madrid.

- Ansu Fati to United? Mundo Deportivo reports the Barca sensation wants to stay at Camp Nou and fight for his place.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone hailed his team's late win over Real Valladolid as they boosted their chances of finishing in LaLiga's top four.

Vitolo came off the bench and headed home the 81st-minute winner for Atletico in a 1-0 victory at home to Valladolid on Saturday.

Atletico moved back up to third in the standings – level on points with Sevilla through 30 games and four clear of Getafe – in the race for Champions League qualification.

"It's always important to take something from a game and even better when you win," Simeone said.

"There were things to improve, but we've had three months without a normal preparation and then you're playing every three days.

"There's a need to adapt and reinvent yourself, given the circumstances. This was a very important win.

"We had chances in the first half and couldn't score, then in the second half it was tough against a very organised side.

"We could have won or lost, but we achieved a great result."

Atletico played behind closed doors at the Wanda Metropolitano due to the coronavirus pandemic and Simeone added: "The fans weren't there in the flesh, but they were there in spirit.

"The minute of silence before the match and the music in the empty stadium were pure emotion. We lost many people."

Vitolo, whose Atletico eliminated titleholders Liverpool en route to the Champions League quarter-finals this season, said: "The club's goal is to quality for the Champions League next season.

"There are many teams that trying and it will be decided in the last matches. Hopefully we can enter and give the fans a joy."

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