Diego Simeone claims players and coaches are powerless as FIFA chiefs push for the World Cup to take place every two years.

The Atletico Madrid head coach spoke on the matter on Saturday, a day ahead of his team's clash with early LaLiga leaders Real Sociedad.

Simeone, who played at three World Cups for Argentina, says the power-brokers in the modern game are not those who are directly involved in games, but those with balance sheets as the priority.

"As much as one may comment on the proposed situation, the final decision is not for the players or the coaches," he said.

"I put myself in the position of a player of mine; I would always go to play with my national team, it is difficult to say 'no' to him.

"People who have to make decisions manage badly in the eyes of the players, they are getting worse and worse. But I am not going to put myself in something that cannot be changed.

"We can complain, express anger, protest, but television rules, money rules, clubs grow, clubs need money, national teams need money.

"We are in the middle, we can protest, complain, but life is like that for everyone."

FIFA head of global development Arsene Wenger is leading the push for more World Cups in both the men's and women's games, but there has been major pushback from UEFA and CONMEBOL, the European and South American confederations, plus players' union umbrella group FIFPRO.

A number of coaches and players, on an individual basis, have also criticised the plans.

Simeone can see why switching the World Cup from a tournament that takes place every four years could hold appeal, purely on the premise it represents the peak of a player's career.

"As a player I would have liked to play a World Cup every year. That's normal," he added. "As a coach we obviously prefer to have the players."

Diego Simeone justified his decision to not shake Jurgen Klopp's hand by highlighting the contrasting cultures after Atletico Madrid were downed 3-2 by Liverpool.

Antoine Griezmann's brace drew Atletico level at 2-2 before the Frenchman was dismissed in the second half – the loanee becoming the first player in the competition to score two-plus goals and be sent off in the same match.

Mohamed Salah then converted from the spot to restore the Reds' lead before Simeone's side had a stoppage-time penalty overturned by VAR after Diogo Jota had allegedly shoved Jose Gimenez.

The Egypt forward's winner meant the LaLiga side conceded more than twice in a Champions League home game for the first time under Simeone, last doing so against Porto in 2009.

After the match, Simeone sprinted down the tunnel as he snubbed a full-time handshake with Klopp, but the Atleti head coach insisted there was no malice in the gesture.

"I don't normally greet after the game," he said.

"I do not like it and I think it is not healthy because there will always be someone who is not satisfied with the game.

"They have a different culture, which I do not share. If I see [Jurgen] Klopp now, I have no problem greeting him."

Klopp collected Liverpool's first win in five attempts against Atletico in the Champions League, while victory ended a five-game winless run against Spanish sides in the competition.

However, centre-back Felipe was left disappointed after the game as he explained his confusion with the overturned penalty decision, albeit the 32-year-old admitted his vision for the Griezmann sending-off was impaired.

"I don't know what the rule is but, for me, it is clear that it is a penalty," Felipe told Movistar.

"He [the referee] went to the VAR to look, then he went to go and look again – it is clear that he had doubts.

"The other way around [for Liverpool's penalty], it was a very fast decision. We have to fight our own battles, but it is a bit unfair.

"The play [by Griezmann] was for yellow and that's it because he's looking at the ball and trying to control it."

Jurgen Klopp said Diego Simeone's decision to not shake his hand following Liverpool's incredible 3-2 Champions League win over 10-man Atletico Madrid "was not so cool".

Simeone stormed down the tunnel at full-time in Tuesday's European classic at Wanda Metropolitano after a couple of big refereeing decisions went against Atletico.

Atleti had two-goal star Antoine Griezmann sent off for a contentious red card for a high boot with the game poised at 2-2 and saw a strong penalty shout overturned by VAR late on.

While not pleased with Simeone's snub, Liverpool manager Klopp could understand his opposite number's frustration on an evening of high drama in the Spanish capital.

"We don't like that but yes the situation is clear," Klopp told BT Sport. "I want to shake his hand. His reaction for sure, like mine, was not so cool. 

"The next time we see each other we will shake hands definitely. It's nothing. He was obviously angry, not with me but with the game. There is nothing else."

Griezmann netted his sixth Champions League double in Atleti colours to cancel out early strikes from Mohamed Salah and Naby Keita before being issued a straight red card.

He had his eyes on the ball and caught Roberto Firmino in the face with his boot, becoming the first player to score twice and be sent off in the same Champions League game.

Salah went on to score a second for the Reds from the penalty spot to put them in front, but more drama followed late on when Diogo Jota shoved Jose Gimenez in the box.

Daniel Siebert pointed to the spot, only to overturn the decision before substitute Luis Suarez could step up after the referee was asked by VAR to check the pitchside monitor.

Atleti's players reacted angrily, but Klopp believes the officials got each of the big calls correct.

"I saw it and our penalty is a penalty. I think the other one [for Atletico] is not a penalty but I didn't expect it [to be overturned]," Klopp said. 

"I think it's the right decision. The red card was for sure unlucky but it is a red card. A foot in the face. It can happen."

Liverpool's victory at the scene of their 2019 Champions League final triumph against Tottenham brought an end to a four-game winless run against Atleti in the competition.

The Reds, who had lost their previous five games against Spanish opposition in UEFA's flagship club tournament, are five points clear at the top of Group B at the midway point.

In a game that had a bit of everything, including another record for Salah as he scored for a ninth Liverpool match running, Klopp was just happy to escape with all three points.

"It was a tough game. Honestly, how we win it, I couldn't care less! On a night like this, getting three points is really nice," he said.

"We did surprisingly well at the beginning. Did we expect it to be that defensive? Probably not. It was not so easy. 

"We scored two wonderful goals then played good football. It was 2-0 then obviously Atletico are not too bothered about having possession. 

"The first goal we gave away then the second, it was nice play but the gaps we had there...That was not alright. 

"At half-time I think everyone in the stadium thought it was only going one way and we thought 'let's give it a proper try again'.

"We played a really solid second half in a tough game with intense football from both teams. We got the penalty, then there was a red card and obviously it was in our favour."

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp is not a fan of Atletico Madrid's style of play but says he has nothing but admiration for "results machine" Diego Simeone.

Klopp questioned Atleti's defensive tactics after the Spanish side knocked Liverpool out of the Champions League at the last-16 stage in the 2019-20 season.

Speaking after his side's 3-2 defeat, seeing them crash out 4-2 on aggregate, Klopp said he "does not understand with the quality they have why they play this type of football".

The two teams face off at Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday and again at Anfield two weeks later in a couple of crucial games in Group B.

Liverpool have taken six points from six so far, leaving them two points above second-place Atletico after the LaLiga champions followed up a stalemate against Porto with a late win at Milan.

Klopp praised opposite number Simeone ahead of Liverpool's trip to the Spanish capital, the Argentinian having won eight trophies during his decade in charge of Atletico, while also reaching two Champions League finals.

"I was angry and disappointed about a lot of things when I said what I said after the last game," Klopp said at Monday's pre-match news conference.

"We played against a team full of world-class players and they defended with all they have. That's probably the reason I said those things.

"I couldn't respect more what they do. Do I like it? Not a lot, but that's me. I like a different style of football. But it just has to be successful and Atletico have been that, for sure.

"Simeone is the current Spanish champion. He's been there for a long time and has been very successful.

"They play a different system now but they are still the results machine they were before. How Simeone keeps them on their toes with the fight they show I don't know.

"They did well with their signings and have a proper team that looks like possible champions again this year in LaLiga. That's incredible.

"So yeah, what I said before was definitely influenced by my mood on that specific day."

Liverpool beat Watford 5-0 at the weekend to remain second in the Premier League, one point behind leaders Chelsea.

The Reds have scored at least three times in all eight away matches this season, a run that includes a 5-1 win at Porto in their most recent European outing.

Klopp's side have 33 goals to their name this term in all competitions – only Bayern Munich (52) have more among teams from Europe's top five leagues – but the German coach is not expecting a high-scoring affair against Atletico.

"We don't think about the amount of goals we've scored," he said. "We never make the difference between home and away games, though we do enjoy home games more.

"Scoring three goals again, with Atletico next, doesn't sound too likely.

"We know if we win both games against them it's very likely we will go through the group.

"The last time we played there we scored early and had lots of possession, but did not create enough chances. We learned a lot between those two most recent games.

"Hopefully we can use the things we've learned, even if they have changed a lot since then."

Liverpool have failed to win any of their four Champions League matches against Atletico, drawing two and losing two – only Basel have they faced as often without winning in their European Cup history.

Reds defender Virgil van Dijk played a full part in the last-16 double-header two seasons ago but insists that extra-time heartbreak will not be in his thoughts on Tuesday.

"We don't need any extra motivation," he said. "We are playing in the Champions League, the most prestigious cup in Europe. We want to go out there and show our qualities. 

"It's a game we're looking forward to and we know we can get a good result there. It's always a good feeling to play at a full stadium."

Diego Simeone was typically curt when asked about Jurgen Klopp's 2020 criticism of Atletico Madrid's style of play ahead of the teams' reunion on Tuesday.

Atletico progressed to the Champions League quarter-finals in 2019-20 thanks to a 4-2 aggregate win over Liverpool, which was aided by a remarkable turnaround in the second leg.

Atletico found themselves 2-0 down early on in extra time, but two goals from Marcos Llorente before the halfway mark of the additional 30 minutes quickly turned the tie on its head, and Alvaro Morata sealed Liverpool's elimination right at the end.

Jurgen Klopp seemed particularly irritated by the defeat because of Atletico's methods, telling BT Sport at the time that he could not "understand, with the quality they have the football they play", suggesting they had the ability to "play proper football" but chose not to.

Indeed, Liverpool had 71 per cent of the ball and 34 shots, which translated to an expected goals (xG) value of 3.5 – Atletico's 10 attempts equated to 1.1 xG, meaning they scored almost three times as many goals as the average team would ordinarily expect given the quality of those chances.

Jan Oblak undoubtedly played a part, with his saves adding up to a full goal prevented in xG terms, while at the other end, Adrian was deemed a weak link and his goals prevented figure was -0.7, suggesting he should have done better.

The two teams will meet for the first time since then at the Wanda Metropolitano on Tuesday and Simeone was unsurprisingly asked for his opinion on Klopp's comments – his response was perhaps to be expected.

"Nothing," he replied with a massive grin, a brief awkward silence following.

But soon after he was queried on his perception of Liverpool, and the Argentinian coach was glowing in his appraisal.

"Chelsea, [Manchester] City, Liverpool are all fantastic, but watching Liverpool is a real pleasure," he continued.

"They press high, play a high line, they have no fear of leaving spaces at the back. They have very quick players to go on the break. With [Virgil] van Dijk now [back from injury], they have improved their solidity in defence, which is very important even for a team like Liverpool.

"I don't expect anything other than a team who will make things very difficult for us. We will try and find a way to hurt them, we need to match their intensity and will look to create our own chances."

Atletico captain Koke played in that previous tie with Liverpool and was also asked about Klopp's comments – his conclusion was that Simeone's team will never change.

"Every manager has their own way of playing and their own way of dealing with the press, for example," Koke said.

"We are going to keep on playing our style, which is to try and compete and win and that is never going to change.

"Every team has different mentalities and different ideas about what the best football is. We just try to play the best way to get a victory, it doesn't matter if we have more or less passes."

Liverpool have lost six and won none of their past seven away Champions League matches in Spain since beating Real Madrid in 2008-09 – though they did win the 2018-19 final at the Metropolitano as a neutral ground.

Atletico Madrid's "world class" strike force of Antoine Griezmann, Luis Suarez, Angel Correa and Joao Felix will help the club to finish above Real Madrid, Barcelona and any other challengers in the LaLiga title race.

That is the view of ex-Valencia, Celta Vigo, Villarreal and Real Zaragoza defender Jose Enrique, who told Stats Perform he also expects Atleti to put up a fight for the Champions League under "annoying" boss Diego Simeone.

The reigning Spanish champions are level on points with city rivals Madrid at LaLiga's summit after eight matches thanks to a 2-0 win over Barcelona – who are five points worse off in ninth with a game in hand – prior to the international break.

Atleti have been far from perfect at the start of their title defence, though, having dropped points against Villarreal, Athletic Bilbao and Deportivo Alaves this term, losing 1-0 to the latter in the shock of the season so far.

Simeone's side have also had to ride their luck at times, with three of their 11 league goals coming in added time and another two arriving in the 78th and 79th minute.

Suarez leads the way with four goals, including a strike against former side Barca two weeks ago, while Correa has three to his name.

With that goal against Barca, the Uruguay international completed the set by scoring against all 31 teams that he has faced in the Spanish top flight.

 

Joao Felix has yet to get off the mark for the LaLiga campaign, though, and Griezmann is also goalless in the league since rejoining from Barcelona at the end of the most recent transfer window.

Yet while Madrid have double the number of goals as Atleti, Jose Enrique rates Los Rojiblancos' attack as the best around and cannot see past them finishing top for a third time in nine seasons this time around.

"I think it will be Atletico," the Spaniard, who also spent eight years in the Premier League with Newcastle United and Liverpool, said when asked who he expects to win the title.

"I know there been some games where they had to struggle in terms of scoring, with 90-something minute winners or whatever. 

"But what they have in the players they have is just incredible. You see the strength of the squad they have. They just signed Griezmann and they have Suarez, Joao Felix, Correa. 

"You talk about those four and for me that could be in any team in the world, and the four of them are strikers.

"Correa can play out on the wing sometimes, Joao Felix as well. But you're talking about four world-class strikers in my opinion. So, for me they are amazing. 

"It is true that that defensively, maybe there's a little bit more. But this is a team that I really believe is going to win the league this year.

"In the Champions League they're going to be annoying again, because Simeone is very, very annoying, always."

Diego Simeone asked Luis Suarez to contact Lionel Messi regarding the possibility of the six-time Ballon d'Or winner joining Atletico Madrid prior to signing for Paris Saint-Germain.

Messi ended a 21-year spell with Barcelona in August as he signed for PSG on a free transfer after the Blaugrana were unable to re-sign the club great due to salary cap restrictions.

Suarez, who Barca surprisingly allowed to join Atletico last year after being deemed surplus to requirements by Ronald Koeman, formed a deep relationship on and off the pitch with Messi during their six years together at Camp Nou.

The pair formed a scintillating attacking trio with Neymar, and Suarez assisted the Argentina captain 47 times – five more than any other player to feature with Messi at Barca.

And Simeone revealed he attempted to partner Suarez and Messi again when the Barca legend became available following confirmation of his departure.

"I'll tell you a detail… With what happened in Barcelona, we called Luis [Suarez]," Simeone told Argentine outlet Ole when asked about any potential move for his compatriot.

"With all due respect, I didn't call Leo [Messi], but I did call Luis to ask how Messi was doing, if he was eager or if there was a slight possibility that he would come to Atletico." 

However, the mission to secure the 34-year-old came to an abrupt end, as Simeone explained: "[It was] something that lasted three hours, because PSG was already obsessed with that [signing]."

It would have been a peculiar feeling for Simeone and the club's fans to see Messi lining up for Atletico, given Los Colchoneros were among Messi's favourite opponents during his time in Spain – his 32 goals against them second only to the 38 plundered in clashes with Sevilla.

Therefore, Simeone knows first-hand the quality Messi possesses. But, true to form, the Atletico head coach insisted the focus would have remained on the team effort even if he had pulled off such a coup.

"He was always at Barcelona, I was always at Atletico [during Messi's career] and we didn't coincide as players in the national team," he continued. "But to me, if you ask me where Messi has to play, I tell you in a team that wants to win, in a team that knows what it has to do to win.

"It doesn't matter where he plays, it matters that the team is prepared to win. Don't think about him, think about the team."

Diego Simeone did not feel Atletico Madrid were any better against Barcelona on Saturday than in previous meetings, with Lionel Messi's absence instead the decisive factor.

Atletico have had a poor record against Barca in Simeone's time at the club, going 20 without a win in this fixture before their 1-0 success in 2020-21.

But they have now gone three without conceding to the Blaugrana in LaLiga for the first time, having drawn 0-0 at the end of last season and won 2-0 on Saturday.

Barca had 70.4 per cent of the possession but created only nine shots worth a combined 1.0 expected goals at the Wanda Metropolitano.

New Paris Saint-Germain signing Messi had scored 26 goals in 30 LaLiga games against Atleti – only managing more against Sevilla (30) and Valencia (27) – and a lack of cutting edge was evident without him.

"It's the first game we played against Barca without Messi," coach Simeone told a news conference. "Other games there has not been much difference to this one, but now Messi is not there."

By contrast, Atleti were ruthless in attack, led by former Barca superstar Luis Suarez.

He teed up the opener for Thomas Lemar, who returned the favour for Suarez to score against Barca for the first time, meaning he has netted against all 31 opponents he has faced in Spain's top flight.

Joao Felix was also involved in both goals, with the opener including one of four passes he completed to Suarez. He found no team-mate more often.

The Portugal international started ahead of Antoine Griezmann, who failed to fire from the bench, but Simeone was not ready to declare Joao Felix and Suarez his new first-choice front line.

"At this hour, we can't get carried away by one game," he said. "There's [Angel] Correa, Griezmann's moment. He scored in the Champions League.

"We have important footballers. Hopefully they can accept that we can be a group so we can be a team."

Diego Simeone is full of respect for Ronald Koeman and sympathises with his opposite number's current situation as Atletico Madrid prepare to host Barcelona in LaLiga.

Atletico lost their previous league match against Deportivo Alaves and are aiming to avoid suffering consecutive defeats in the competition for the first time since 2019.

Simeone's side sit in fourth and have won just one of their last 11 top-flight home games against Barca, who are unbeaten in their first LaLiga six matches this term, though there is mounting pressure on head coach Ronald Koeman.

Reports suggest the under-fire Koeman is soon to be relieved of his duties at Camp Nou, but Simeone spoke highly of the Dutchman ahead of Saturday's meeting in the Spanish capital.

"He will surely be in an uncomfortable situation and, on our side, I imagine that all of his colleagues respect him as a coach and he will surely always do well," Simeone told reporters at Friday's pre-match news conference.

"I am not the one to value anything. I respect Koeman very much, he has shown personality and I wish him the best. As for the transition, we are very busy with ourselves and we do not worry about what happens on another team.

"We think about the value of the rival players, Barcelona has great footballers, a very good coach with a lot of personality and we focus on doing well ourselves, improving ourselves."

 

The fixture may well signify the end for Koeman, who will be absent from the touchline after his dismissal against Cadiz, but it also sees Luis Suarez go up against his former club once again.

The forward has scored against 30 of the 31 opponents he has faced in LaLiga, with Barca the only side Suarez has failed to find the net against so far.

However, Simeone insisted there was no change in motivation for Suarez, while he also praised the versatility of Antoine Griezmann following his return to the club from Barcelona.

"I see him [Suarez] as always, since he arrived here, with the same hunger, enthusiasm and we try to empower him that the best thing he has is the goal," Simeone said.

"We always put him [Griezmann] where he normally plays. Footballers always have a privileged place, I like to play here.

"The important thing is where the team needs it and Antoine I have no doubt that where we put him, the other day as a midfielder, I am sure he can help us wherever we put him."

Milan head coach Stefano Pioli was left frustrated that key decisions went against his side in their 2-1 Champions League defeat to Atletico Madrid.

The Rossoneri were deservedly ahead through Rafael Leao after 20 minutes at San Siro before Franck Kessie received a second yellow card for catching Marcos Llorente on the foot.

The home side survived until the 84th minute when substitute Antoine Griezmann swept home a fine first-time finish to level the scores on Tuesday.

Then, deep into injury time, referee Cuneyt Cakir awarded a penalty against Pierre Kalulu for handball, allowing Luis Suarez to net the 97th-minute winner.

"More than anger, there's disappointment. We were close to an important result," Pioli told Sky Sport Italia.

"At 11 versus 11, we played much better. It's a shame because a little more attention was needed for the first goal. The boys made an important effort and losing complicates qualification for us.

"We're still missing that piece that can make the difference. We're not missing much. We played great football for half an hour, [and] we suffered when outnumbered. It's a performance that must give us confidence."

He added on the Kessie red card: "Franck had already been booked. It didn't look like a second-yellow offence in the 30th minute of the first half. The referee was certainly not the best on the pitch tonight."

The result put Atleti two points behind group leaders Liverpool and four clear of Milan, who lost to Jurgen Klopp's side on matchday one.

Diego Simeone admitted Atletico had been second best until Kessie's dismissal changed the course of the contest.

"In the first 30 minutes, they put us under pressure and we didn't have the tools to get out," he told reporters.

"Then, they were left with a man down and the game changed from there. We managed to impose ourselves in the second half.

"We have great room for improvement. We need to find that consistency in creating play and doing the right actions."

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone absolved his misfiring attackers of any blame following Saturday's shock LaLiga defeat to Deportivo Alaves. 

Victor Laguardia scored the only goal four minutes in at Estadio de Mendizorroza to inflict a first defeat of the season on Atleti in all competitions. 

Atleti had just one shot on target – substitute Angel Correa forcing Fernando Pacheco into a fine save – as Simeone's side missed out on the chance to overtake leaders Real Madrid. 

The Spanish champions have now failed to find the net in three of their last four matches, during which time they have won only once in all competitions. 

Despite playing a full part against Alaves, who were previously without a point this term, Luis Suarez and recent signing Antoine Griezmann failed to complete a single pass between each other. 

Griezmann has yet to so much as register a shot on target in his last seven LaLiga outings for Atleti and Barcelona combined, his longest such run in the competition. 

Rather than criticise the likes of Suarez, Griezmann and Correa, Atleti boss Simeone instead insisted it was down to him to find a way to break down a solid Alaves team. 

"The responsibility is mine for not having found options to overcome their defence," he said at his post-match news conference. 

"When opposition teams defend well, it is difficult to find those solutions. 

"It's also difficult when a team like Alaves close you down. We didn't have the speed or ability to hurt them. They deserved the win because they scored and knew how to defend." 

 

Laguardia's early goal came from a set-piece situation, the centre-back getting away from Stefan Savic and heading in Ruben Duarte's corner. 

Half of the previous 10 goals conceded by Atletico in the league have now come via headers, excluding own goals, and Simeone accepted his side must improve in that area. 

"I don't think the defence is to blame for the defeat because the goal came from a set-piece," he said.  

"But if there's a weakness at the back, or when defending set-pieces, then it is clear we will have to study that, work on it and try to correct it. 

"We have to keep improving. We had several phases of patient play today and I believe in these players." 

Atleti's fixtures do not get any easier as they travel to Milan in the Champions League on Tuesday, then host Barcelona in the league four days later. 

Reflecting on a bad run of form heading into that huge double-header, Simeone added: "We always say there are bad moments during a season and this may be one of them. 

"We have a good squad, a balanced squad, and we will analyse what is going wrong and try to find solutions." 

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone says the side are different to the one when Antoine Griezmann previously left and has called for patience with the French forward.

Griezmann was replaced in the 67th minute with Atletico trailing 1-0 against Getafe on Tuesday, before Luis Suarez netted twice to complete a fine comeback.

The France international was making his fourth appearance for Atletico since returning from Barcelona on deadline day, having left for the Blaugrana in 2019. Griezmann is yet to score for Atleti in his second stint at the club.

"It is normal. He was very enthusiastic to return," Simeone told reporters after the game.

"He is in the process of adapting to this Atletico, which is not the same as the one he left but I have no doubts that it will be what we expect. We are fortunate to have him.

"Atletico generated other things last season… now we understand that with the players we have these systems can also enter.

"The team has more associative play. We are on a path for everyone to adapt, not only Griezmann, but also Rodrigo [De Paul]. Today he did very well. He came on to give us more stability."

Atletico's comeback was aided by Carles Alena's 74th-minute sending off, dismissed for a second yellow card upon consultation with the VAR.

Suarez equalised in the 78th minute from Hermoso's ball into the box, before the Uruguayan headed a 90th-minute winner from Sime Vrsaljko's hopeful cross.

The brace ended Suarez's slow start to the campaign, having only netted once in Atletico's five games prior to the Getafe clash.

"Anyone would have removed Suarez and Suarez scored goals," Simeone said.

“We chatted at half-time and then, even aside from the goals, we saw another team that played with more offensive forcefulness. We have to continue managing that and wait for our most important players to hit their best form."

The result lifts Atletico above Real Madrid into top spot with 14 points from six games, although Los Blancos have a game in hand against Real Mallorca on Wednesday. Simeone conceded his side are yet to find their best form.

"We're at the start of the season," Simeone said. "There are many situations that the team needs to overcome, the team hasn't been as we would like them to be. The game was against a difficult opponent, who aren't going to lose all season and are dangerous."

Diego Simeone hopes Antoine Griezmann will soon respond to his critics after Atletico Madrid were held to a goalless draw with Porto in the Champions League.

Atletico failed to win their opening game for the third consecutive season and are now winless in four home matches in Europe's premier club competition, their joint-longest streak without a victory.

Griezmann was introduced as a second-half substitute amid boos in search of a winner but failed to provide attacking impetus as he did not manage to record a single touch in Porto's box.

Following an underwhelming second debut against Espanyol following his return from Barcelona on loan, the pressure is now on the France forward, who already had to win supporters over on his comeback after his move to Camp Nou.

But Simeone is backing Griezmann, whose 21 goals for Atletico in the Champions League are nine more than any of their previous players in history, to prove his doubters wrong.

"Let's hope that he [Griezmann] gets better, that he can respond to all the people who criticise him at this time," Atletico head coach Simeone said to Movistar.

"He has a challenge ahead of him as a result of what happened in the past.

"They [the media] are making a movie and a morbid situation that clearly generates for us only the importance of having recovered a magnificent footballer whom we hope to recover."

Wednesday's result means LaLiga champions Atletico have now just won two of their last 10 European fixtures, but Simeone insisted he will drive his side towards improvements.

"The team has improvement ahead, we have work," he continued.

"We will aim for that, to find what makes the team better so that it maintains continuity in the game for as many minutes as possible.

"The system is a way of looking for variants so that the team can find solutions to the match. We have players who can play in different positions.

"We always did, last year we played various formations. We play with all systems."

Diego Simeone insists the referee was correct to add on 10 additional minutes in Atletico Madrid's dramatic late win at Espanyol due to the home side's time-wasting.

Atleti were heading for a first defeat of the season after Raul de Tomas gave Espanyol the lead through their first LaLiga goal in nine matches.

But Simeone's decision to make a triple substitution at half-time, before also turning to Joao Felix and Matheus Cunha in the second half, paid off for the reigning champions.

Yannick Carrasco fired in an equaliser in the 79th minute – Atleti's 300th LaLiga goal against Espanyol – and then set up Lemar's winner in the ninth of 10 added-on minutes.

Six substitutions were made in the second half and there was a lengthy VAR check for an earlier disallowed goal for Lemar after Luis Suarez was adjudged to have been offside in the build-up.

Espanyol scorer De Tomas complained about the amount of additional time played, but Simeone believes the hosts were made to pay for deliberately slowing down the game.

"It was a lot of minutes at the end, but I've never seen so much time wasted in a match either," Simeone said at his post-match news conference.

"You should look at what happened during the match."

 

Lemar dropped out of the starting line-up in place of Antoine Griezmann, who was making his second debut for Atleti, but made an impression during his time on the pitch.

Simeone explained after the game that the decision to overlook Lemar for a starting spot was down to fitness reasons following his return from international duty with France.

"Thomas is in a very good moment," Simeone said. "With the national team he had a digestive problem, he lost 3-4 kilos. 

"That is why I had doubts and thought about reserving him instead for Wednesday. I hope he can repeat those scenarios. 

"He was the player we signed from Monaco, the player that the team needs. Verticality he is good, he has a right foot, a left foot, he works had

"He grew a lot last season but lacked goals. Hopefully this season the goals will follow like today."

Atletico's late double came after Griezmann had been substituted off with an hour played following an underwhelming first game back since rejoining from Barcelona.

Griezmann had just four touches in the opposition box and managed only two shots, neither of which were on target, though nobody could match his three big chances created.

Asked what he made of Griezmann's performance, Simeone said: "I saw quite a lot in the first half that was not good from us. Espanyol were better in the first half.

"In the second we changed and looked for other alternatives to what we saw in the first half. The team had an extraordinary second half."

While Atletico have now picked up three wins and a draw from their opening four games, Espanyol remain winless on their return to the top flight.

Despite the controversy surrounding the added time at the end of the game at RCDE Stadium, home boss Vicente Moreno did not feel the need to criticise referee Juan Martinez Munuera.

"I don't think about it. It may seem like more minutes or fewer than expected, but it's down to the referee. Little can change what he saw," Moreno said.

"You rarely see 10 minutes added on in a game, but I am totally respectful. I just hope it's the same when we need a goal.

"As for the other comments made [by Simeone], I am respectful of what everyone says."

Atletico, who had failed to win on their previous three league visits to Espanyol, return to action on Wednesday with a home match against Porto in the Champions League.

Antoine Griezmann was eager to return to Atletico Madrid, according to Diego Simeone, who acknowledged there will be plenty of expectation on the forward.

Griezmann left Atleti for Barcelona in 2019 but, on deadline day, the 30-year-old returned to the Spanish champions on a season-long loan with an option to extend the deal.

With Barca hit by huge financial losses, the Catalan club needed to get Griezmann's wages off their books, even with Lionel Messi having left for Paris Saint-Germain.

Griezmann's departure from Atleti two years ago was by no means a smooth one, with supporters seemingly aggravated by the prolonged nature of the move. In 2018, the former Real Socieded attacker committed his future to the club, only to leave a season later.

However, Simeone insists Griezmann, who scored 94 LaLiga goals for Atleti in his first spell, was determined to return from Barca.

"I found a Griezmann who was eager to return," Simeone said ahead of Sunday's meeting with Espanyol, with Griezmann having been included in Atleti's squad for an immediate return to the city of Barcelona.

"[He was] enthusiastic about the option of returning to the team, and people will demand from Griezmann what they demand from us every day.

"The fans are very demanding and it is normal for them to demand from Griezmann what they demand from us every day."

 

Griezmann has joined a sparkling attack at Atleti, with Luis Suarez, Joao Felix and Angel Correa likely to be competing with the World Cup winner for a place up front. 

"Actually, when you talk about a better or worse squad, short or deep, everything is seen as a consequence of what is going to happen during the season," said Simeone when asked if his team were favourites for the title.

"It is easy to think of the best before the game starts and for there to be some imagination about the names, but the names do not make a team. The men do that.

"So, we will go without changing anything, with the commitment that I have with the club, and tomorrow we will play against a very complex, aggressive opponent who will be tough, like everyone else in the Spanish league.

"We hope to improve compared to what happened last season. We did not have a good Copa del Rey [run], in the Champions League we would have liked to compete better [and] we [also] have the Supercopa de Espana.

"Four competitions where hopefully we can improve the numbers from last season, as we are always looking to do."

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