Real Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti has warned his side face a tougher test on Thursday when they play arch-rivals Atletico for the second time in eight days.

The two Spanish giants go head-to-head in the Copa del Rey’s last 16 at the Metropolitano Stadium with Atleti seeking revenge after last week’s thrilling Spanish Super Cup semi-final defeat to Real in Saudi Arabia.

Ancelotti’s side scored twice in extra time in Riyadh to edge it 5-3 – they beat Barcelona 4-1 in Sunday’s final – but the Italian expects Diego Simeone’s Atleti to thrive in front of their own fans.

“The (Atleti) team is good,” Ancelotti told a press conference. “We’ve got another very difficult game.

“Atletico are a top opponent and they showed that in the Super Cup; the match was very even.

“We’re expecting it to be even more difficult (on Thursday) because they’re at home and they’re doing very well there.”

Atleti have won nine and drawn one of their 10 home games in LaLiga this season and are unbeaten at the Metropolitano Stadium since a 1-0 league defeat to Barcelona in January 2023.

Real’s last visit there ended in a 3-1 LaLiga defeat in September, while Atleti refused to give their city rivals a traditional guard of honour after Los Blancos had sealed the league title with four games remaining in 2022.

Whether Simeone’s side afford Real the honour after their Spanish Super Cup success remains to be seen and Ancelotti commented: “I respect the decisions of every club.

“I think it’s perfectly fine whether they do it or not. I don’t attach much importance to this.”

Ancelotti has no new injury worries, but is still without Lucas Vazquez (thigh), while Thibaut Courtois, David Alaba and Eder Militao are working their way back from serious knee injuries.

“The whole team is available apart from Lucas Vazquez and the three with cruciate injuries. I’m going to put the best possible team out. If the team recovers well, everyone is available,” Ancelotti added.

“We’ve had a lot of injuries and we’ve stuck it out because the squad is very strong. There is a great deal of competition in training sessions and they’re very intense. This allows us to be in good physical condition.”

Ivan Martin’s stoppage-time strike saw Girona beat Atletico Madrid 4-3 in a thriller at the Estadi Municipal de Montilivi to keep pace with Real Madrid at the top of the LaLiga table.

Martin sent the ball into the top corner in the first minute of added time to restore Girona’s advantage after Atletico had fought back from 3-1 down to draw level at 3-3, with Alvaro Morata scoring a hat-trick.

After Morata had cancelled out Valery’s early opener for the hosts, an eventful first half continued with further Girona efforts from Savio and Daley Blind.

Morata reduced the deficit with his second in the 44th minute, before completing his treble in early in the second half – but it was Martin who would have the final say.

Michel’s Girona go back level on points with leaders Real, who beat Mallorca 1-0 earlier on Wednesday, with Diego Simeone’s Atletico 10 points back in third.

Girona took the lead in the second minute through a wonderful finish from Valery, who lashed in from the edge of the box having received the ball from Pablo Torre.

Atletico hit back in the 14th minute as Antoine Griezmann headed a long ball on to Morata and he sent a composed finish past Paulo Gazzaniga.

The visitors were then punished for sloppiness at the back in the 26th minute when Koke was dispossessed just outside his own area by Martin, his shot was parried by Jan Oblak and Savio fired in the loose ball.

And Girona had another after 39 minutes as Aleix Garcia’s cross was helped on by the boot of Artem Dovbyk and Blind was there to tuck the ball home at the far post.

Five minutes later, the goal rush went on with Morata striking again, running on to a pass from Rodrigo De Paul before slotting in.

He then thought he had another goal in first-half stoppage time, only for the effort to be disallowed for offside via VAR.

Atletico subsequently made a strong start to the second half, which included Morata seeing one header saved by Gazzaniga and another go wide.

The former Chelsea man notched his third nine minutes in, lifting a delightful shot beyond Gazzaniga after a great forward burst by De Paul, to bring things all square once more and move to 12 LaLiga goals for the season.

Girona went close to regaining the lead in the 62nd minute as Dovbyk cracked a shot goalwards, with Oblak making a great save to divert the ball wide.

It looked as if the points would be shared, but as stoppage time arrived Martin ensured Girona took all three as he lifted the ball beyond Oblak to seal a memorable victory.

Diego Simeone's passion and defence-first tactics make him an ideal fit at Atletico Madrid, according to Hector Herrera.

Herrera played under Simeone at Atleti for three years between 2019 and 2022, winning the 2020-21 LaLiga title with the club before heading to MLS with Houston Dynamo.

Simeone has enjoyed great success since he was appointed at Atleti in 2011, leading them to a pair of league titles, two Europa League trophies as well as two Champions League finals, albeit losing both to city rivals Real Madrid.

The 53-year-old took charge of his 100th Champions League game with Atleti as they won 3-1 away at Feyenoord on Tuesday to clinch a last-16 place. Simeone is one of just three coaches to manage 100 or more Champions League games with the same team, joining Alex Ferguson and Arsene Wenger, who managed the feat with Manchester United and Arsenal respectively.

Simeone has often been described as a defensive coach, though Herrera believes his former boss, known by many as 'Cholo', instead uses his conservative tactics to give his team more license to go and attack.

"The people outside think that the game is defensive, but Cholo's idea is clear," Herrera told Stats Perform. "First you have to defend to be able to attack later.

"He always said that you start by being good defensively, and then you can create danger. They believe that the best way to attack is to defend and I think that works well for them.

"It is a way of playing that has given him a lot of success and when I was there too. He works and makes it very clear to you what you have to do on the pitch."

Simeone will enter his 13th year as Atleti head coach in December, having signed a new contract in November that will keep him with the club until 2027.

Herrera believes the views of Simeone and the club align and that is why he chose to stay on, saying: "They are one for another. Atletico is for Cholo and Cholo is for Atletico.

"They have the same passion for the club and for football, that's why it's gone so well. He is a coach who feels a lot about football and his profession. He has a very clear idea of himself and the identity of the club.

"All of this is why he has done so well and has earned to continue being the team's coach."

Liam Scales admits Celtic need to be more streetwise in Europe.

Brendan Rodgers’ side have been very competitive with a full quota of players in the Champions League but three red cards in four games have proved costly.

Daizen Maeda’s dismissal in Spain on Tuesday led to a 6-0 defeat by Atletico Madrid, which leaves Celtic bottom of Group E with one point and in need of wins over Lazio and Feyenoord and favours from Diego Simeone’s team.

Centre-back Scales, who has not been booked in the Champions League, said of the red cards: “It’s probably that we are a young team and maybe a bit naive at times.

“You come and play in Europe and the referees, you get nothing out of them. They are a lot stricter and tackles that you might get away with domestically, they give.

“With VAR, you are going to pick up red cards in the way we’ve been doing.

“It’s frustrating, because I think with 11 players on the pitch we had started the game quite well.

“I know we had conceded earlier before the red card, but I thought we had quite a bit of the ball, and it definitely would have been a more even game with 11 men.”

Scales also believes they need to learn from the animated reaction of the Atletico bench when Maeda made his tackle and was initially booked, before VAR intervened.

Scales said: “To be honest, you see the way they react and all of their staff are up off the bench. It definitely doesn’t help.

“The VAR screen is right beside their bench as well, and he (the referee) was probably feeling the pressure.

“They are definitely more street-smart than us, that’s for sure, the way they influence the referee.

“It’s not the nicest part of the game, but it helps them win games and we could definitely learn from it.”

The manner of defeat has led to some soul-searching among the Celtic support about their level in European football but Scales pointed out they had drawn with Atletico two weeks earlier.

“I think we’re at the level, it’s just naivety and poor decisions at times have let us down,” the Republic of Ireland international said.

“Some of the goals, we could have defended better, we need to look back on that and see what we could have done better defensively.

“But it’s still difficult with 10 men away from home to get results at any level, and especially there.”

Celtic now travel to Rome needing a win on November 28.

“There’s a few games left in the group and now it’s just about bouncing back and doing as well as we can, because the Lazio game was so tight and it could have gone either way, and we feel that we can go there and get a result,” Scales said.

“It’s the same with Feyenoord at home. We were doing well in Feyenoord up until the couple of red cards, and the same happened here.

“I think we just have to bounce back, that’s it.”

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has signed a new contract with the LaLiga outfit running to the summer of 2027.

The 53-year-old Argentinian has been in the job since December 2011 and is the most successful head coach in Atletico’s history.

Simeone has overseen the club winning two league titles, one Copa del Rey and the Europa League twice, as well as two European Super Cups and one Spanish Super Cup.

His tenure has also seen Atletico reach two Champions League finals, in 2014 and 2016.

Having been in the Atletico dugout for a record 642 matches to date, winning 380, Simeone currently has the team fourth in LaLiga, six points behind leaders Girona with a game in hand, while they top their Champions League group with eight points from four fixtures.

Atletico Madrid captain Koke defended the club’s “great gesture” in using their return to Parkhead to pay tribute to the side that beat Celtic in controversial circumstances in 1974.

Atletico will wear a retro strip which matches the style worn by the team that beat Celtic in the European Cup semi-finals.

The side are heroes for the Spanish club, having gone on to win the Intercontinental Cup against Argentina’s Independiente despite losing the European Cup final against Bayern Munich.

But they are viewed as villains by Celtic fans and former players. Atletico had three players sent off and seven others booked as they battled their way to a goalless first-leg draw in Glasgow with Jimmy Johnstone in particular subjected to some vicious fouls.

Police intervened in some post-match clashes between players and Celtic advised fans not to travel to Spain for the second leg, which they lost 2-0, amid reports of death threats for Johnstone and manager Jock Stein.

Two of the players from that team, Ramon Heredia and Francisco Melo, travelled on the club flight to Glasgow for Wednesday’s Champions League game. Both were booked on their previous trip to Celtic Park.

When asked about the controversy the choice of strip had sparked, Koke said: “It’s an important thing for the club, but that was 50 years ago, so while it is good to have those people with us and memories are a big part of football, it is a completely different game now.

“We are just focused on the game. It doesn’t really matter what colour of shirts we are wearing, they could be red or they could be red and white.

“It’s not so important for what happens in the game what jersey we wear, the most important thing is what happens on the pitch.

“But it’s a great gesture from the club and it’s an important part of the club’s history, what happened 50 years ago.”

Manager Diego Simeone brushed off suggestions, from the Spanish media, that the tribute might be seen as an inflammatory move.

“People can interpret things any way they want,” he said. “Wednesday is just about the opposition. Celtic is a tough rival, with some really strong players. I really admire the way they play football and it is going to be a tough game.

“In their games against Lazio and Feyenoord, especially in the first 60-70 minutes, they played at a really high tempo. They are good in transition and have a strong system that they stuck to.

“They will press you in your own half and playing here, it is a really historic stadium.

“As well as the history of 1974, my father told me about 1967 when they played Racing Club (in the Intercontinental Cup). It’s a huge club. One of the most famous in the world.”

Simeone was also asked by a Spanish journalist about a headline over their strip choice in the Scottish press which read ‘Pathetico Madrid’.

“Newspapers will have their headlines but what matters to me is the stadium, the history and the crowd,” he said.

Atletico Madrid missed the chance to leapfrog Real Madrid and finish second in LaLiga on the final day of the season, as Jorge Pascual scored Villarreal's last-gasp equaliser in a 2-2 draw.

Antoine Griezmann laid on two goals for Angel Correa after Nicolas Jackson put Villarreal ahead early on, but Axel Witsel's red card saw Diego Simeone's side come under mounting pressure, which told when Pascual converted two minutes into stoppage time.

That meant Atleti finished the season one point adrift of their city rivals in third, despite Los Blancos labouring to a 1-1 draw with Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Pablo Barrios' error was punished as Villarreal went ahead after nine minutes, the teenager's miscued header teeing up Jackson for a powerful finish across goal. 

Atleti levelled when Correa turned Griezmann's clever free-kick home nine minutes later, and the France international teed up Correa again with the latter rounding Filip Jorgensen to put the visitors 2-1 up after the break.

With Atleti seemingly heading for second place, Witsel was dismissed for fouling Giovani Lo Celso as the last man, and Villarreal made their numerical advantage count in the season's dying moments, Pascual converting a rebound to condemn Simeone's side to third.

Real Sociedad secured Champions League qualification despite goals from Antoine Griezmann and Nahuel Molina condemning them to a 2-1 defeat at Atletico Madrid on Sunday.

La Real headed to the Civitas Metropolitano knowing three points would seal a top-four LaLiga finish for the first time since the 2012-13 season.

But a superb first-half strike from Griezmann would put Diego Simeone's already-qualified Atletico in front, cutting onto his left foot before lashing into the far corner for his 15th league goal of the season.

Molina would make the points safe for third-placed Atletico, latching onto Griezmann's neat throughball before smashing a deflected effort past Alex Remiro and into the net.

Alexander Sorloth would pull one back late on, Brais Mendez producing a brilliant assist to set the striker in on goal before the Norway international fired home.

But time would run out on their pursuit of an equaliser as the visitors fell to a first loss in eight league matches.

La Real would be able to celebrate at full time, however, as Villarreal's 2-1 loss away at Rayo Vallecano ensured Imanol Alguacil's team will be playing Champions League football next season.

Atletico can still finish second. They are a point behind city rivals Real Madrid going into the final matchday of the season next weekend.

Atletico Madrid squandered a three-goal lead in a remarkable 3-3 draw at Espanyol, as Vinicius Souza's equaliser ensured Los Colchoneros missed the chance to go second in LaLiga.

After seeing rivals Real Madrid leapfrog them with a 2-1 win over Rayo Vallecano, Atleti appeared set to move one point clear in the battle to finish as runners-up when they raced into a 3-0 lead.

Saul Niguez struck first with a left-footed finish from a tight angle 21 minutes in, and Antoine Griezmann's 14th league goal of the season put Diego Simeone's men in control on the stroke of half-time.

Atleti further extended their lead within 14 seconds of the restart, Yannick Carrasco converting the rebound when Angel Correa's drive was palmed away by Fernando Pacheco.

But Espanyol, fighting for their lives near the bottom of LaLiga, were in no mood to roll over. Cesar Montes powered a header home from a right-wing corner before Ivo Grbic's foul on Javier Puado allowed Joselu to convert from the penalty spot.

Vinicius then dented Atleti's bid for second with a glancing header from Aleix Vidal's cross 11 minutes from time, but with the hosts three points adrift of safety, it may not be enough to preserve their top-flight status.

Atletico Madrid climbed to second in LaLiga following a commanding 3-0 victory over Osasuna at Civitas Metropolitano on Sunday.

Yannick Carrasco, Saul Niguez and Angel Correa were on target as Diego Simeone's side leapfrogged rivals Real Madrid, who play Valencia later on Sunday, with an eighth straight home win.

The hosts broke through a minute before half-time. Saul's throughball released Antoine Griezmann, who claimed his 13th assist of the season by putting the ball on a plate for Carrasco to tuck away his fifth goal in 11 appearances.

Saul doubled the lead in the 62nd minute when he rifled into the top corner, while substitute Correa sealed Atletico's 10th straight victory over Osasuna when he slotted home Rodrigo de Paul's throughball eight minutes from time.

Atletico Madrid missed the chance to leapfrog Real Madrid into second place in LaLiga on Sunday, as Ivo Grbic's error proved costly in a 1-0 defeat to relegated Elche.

Diego Simeone's men had the opportunity to go one point clear of their city rivals at the Estadio Martinez Valero, but their three-match winning run ground to a halt as Fidel Chaves restored some pride for LaLiga's bottom club.

Elche took the lead on the stroke of half-time as Grbic – deputising for the injured Jan Oblak – miscued his punch from Lautaro Blanco's long throw, allowing skipper Fidel to hook his finish into an unguarded net.

Edgar Badia made an excellent one-on-one save to deny Alvaro Morata an equaliser after the break, but Elche went closest to a second goal with both Pere Milla and Lucas Boye missing clear chances.

Though Atleti have all but sealed a top-four finish, they have work to do to overhaul Los Blancos, sitting two points adrift of Carlo Ancelotti's men in third with four games remaining.

Diego Simeone is no stranger to defensive organisation, and the Atletico Madrid boss has been impressed by Xavi's work in making Barcelona difficult to break down this season.

Barca are closing in on their first league title since the 2018-19 campaign, sitting 11 points clear of Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga with nine games of the season remaining.

While Xavi's side have been criticised at times for a perceived failure to employ an entertaining style, they have conceded just nine goals in 29 league games this term.  

The Blaugrana have kept a remarkable 22 clean sheets in LaLiga this season, at least four more than any other team in Europe's top five leagues (Lazio are second with 18).

At Saturday's pre-match press conference, Simeone was asked whether Atleti and Barca had become stylistically similar as a result of Xavi's work.

"I like this Barcelona," Simeone said. "It's a different Barcelona style. They have been growing and have had a great season. 

"They have improved in defence thanks to the characteristics of their players, and improving the defensive part has added more value to Xavi's work."

Atleti have won six successive league games to move within two points of second-placed Real Madrid, and Simeone believes their displays have not been met with the credit they deserve.

"When we started the season we were not in the best way. But if we go back a bit, to when we won LaLiga, we did it by playing very well," Simeone added.

"Sometimes a stigma is generated. Sometimes people don't watch the games and they give their opinion just to give their opinion. 

"Like Barca improving defensively, or Manchester City – who have given a very good defensive performance – we have improved, we have grown."

Simeone has overseen 15 trips to Camp Nou without winning as Atleti boss, more matches than he has taken charge of at any other venue since taking over Los Colchoneros in 2011. 

Opposing boss Xavi, meanwhile, has won both of his league games against Atleti since taking the reins at Camp Nou, and he could become just the second coach in Barca's history to win his first three meetings with Atleti in LaLiga (after Luis Enrique).

Barcelona must rediscover their firepower when they attempt to keep in-form Atletico Madrid's waiting for an elusive win at Camp Nou on Sunday.

A goalless draw at Getafe last weekend meant Barca have failed to find the back of the net in three games.

Xavi's side remain well on course to win the LaLiga title, leading Real Madrid by 11 points with nine matches to play, but have stuttered in recent weeks.

The Blaugrana have not been beaten at home by Atleti since back in 2006, but Diego Simeone's third-placed side head into the game on a six-match winning run in LaLiga.

Using the standout Opta data, Stats Perform preview a huge game in Catalonia.

 

Barca must rediscover cutting edge

The leaders have not scored a goal since a 4-0 hammering of Elche on April 1, firing a blank when they were consigned to a 4-0 drubbing by Madrid in the Copa del Rey before back-to-back stalemates against Girona and Getafe.

Barca had 44 shots in those three matches, hitting the woodwork twice against Getafe. On only three previous occasions have they failed to score in four successive games, most recently in April 2008 under Frank Rijkaard.

The return to training this week of Ousmane Dembele, Pedri and Frenkie de Jong should give them a lift.

Defensive records make goal-fest unlikely

With so many classy attacking players on show, you might think surely another goalless draw will not be on the cards this weekend.

It would be no great surprise, though, given the defensive records the two sides have, with Barca keeping 22 clean sheets in the 2022-campaign and Atleti 12.

Marc Andre Ter Stegen has only let in an incredible nine goals this season in 29 games in the Spanish top flight, with Atleti goalkeeper Jan Oblak second on the list of the fewest conceded with 21.

Camp Nou an unhappy hunting ground for Simeone

Simeone has had more games without a win at Camp Nou as a boss than any other venue, failing to come out on top on 15 occasions.

Atleti secured back-to-back away victories over Barca in 2005 and 2006, but the Catalan giants are unbeaten in 16 home matches against the Rojiblancos since their last loss 17 years ago.

Simeone's men are on a roll, though, reeling off six successive LaLiga wins – the joint-best current run in Europe's top five leagues along with Manchester City – and they are unbeaten in 13 games in the competition. 

Griezy does it

Antoine Griezmann will return to face his former employers in impressive form.

The France forward has scored five goals in his past eight LaLiga games, just one less than in his previous 36 games in the competition.

Griezmann scored both goals in a 2-1 victory over Almeria last weekend, taking his tally for the season to 12 to go with 11 assists.

Diego Simeone set a new record for matches in charge of Atletico Madrid on Saturday and his players provided a stunning tribute as they crushed Sevilla 6-1 at the Civitas Metropolitano.

Simeone, 54, was presiding over his 613th match as Atletico coach, breaking the record set by the late Luis Aragones.

He was handed with a framed commemorative jersey with "Legend, Simeone, 613" across the back before the LaLiga game, with Aragones' son and three of Simeone's children joining him for the presentation.

Simeone's side followed that up with a fitting homage as they brutally swept aside another of their coach's former clubs.

Memphis Depay scored twice in quick succession before the half-hour mark, his second an emphatic strike from the edge of the box, with Youssef En-Nesyri halving the deficit from close range late in the half.

Atletico need not have worried, however. Antoine Griezmann restored the two-goal lead early in the second half and Yannick Carrasco made it 4-1.

Alvaro Morata netted twice late on – his first coming just after Ivan Rakitic missed a penalty – to wrap up a memorable victory on a momentous day for Simeone.

"A night to enjoy and one that [Simeone] will surely not forget," club captain Koke told Movistar after the game. "But hey, I'm sure he's already thinking about the Girona game because his philosophy in life is like that.

"Bygones are bygones, and he always looks to the next game."

He added: "You can't imagine an Atletico Madrid without Simeone. I've been here for 11 years, he came with a very clear idea, he changed the mentality, brought us all together, given the club the stability it needed and hopefully it will continue for many years.

"He has a year and a half left on his contract and we'll see what happens later."

Griezmann celebrated his goal by running over to Simeone and wrapping him in a huge hug.

Explaining the gesture, Griezmann said: "What is an important day for him is an important day for me. I wanted it to be a magical day for the fans and for my team-mates."

For Simeone, however, his focus turned to Aragones, whom he was coached by as a player at Sevilla.

Aragones died in February 2014, but ahead of Saturday's game Simeone posted a letter to him on social media, an act the Argentinian felt was necessary to outline his emotions.

Discussing the letter after the Sevilla game, Simeone told reporters: "Explaining feelings and emotions is difficult.

"I had no doubts seven or eight days ago, I began to think about what was happening and I understood that there was a person before everything that I had to write to, Luis. I talked about it with the family and they said it was a good idea.

"Why? We have travelled the same path; that respect for an eternal person; and passing the point that places me – by numbers, not by capacity – in the history of Atletico.

"Where I am, [Aragones] knows the difficulty. He knows the anger, the egos, living with the emotions, what the club needs, the coaching staff, that we must not make mistakes, that I must say the right word at the right time.

"We have made mistakes several times, but I am calm, I am at peace, because I am in the place where I want to be, I do what I like.

"I am excited to see when the team stands up and continues fighting until the end."

Diego Simeone believes Real Madrid receive preferential treatment from referees after Atletico Madrid's Angel Correa was red carded during Saturday's derby draw.

The match finished 1-1 with 18-year-old Alvaro Rodriguez coming off the bench to score a late equaliser after Jose Gimenez had headed Atleti in front.

Despite Simeone's men putting yet another dent in their rivals' LaLiga title hopes, he was aggrieved not to pick up all three points and highlighted what he perceives as refereeing bias towards Madrid after Correa was sent off for an elbow to the chest of Antonio Rudiger.

"A contact is not a blow," Simeone told DAZN. "Football is a physical game.

"If I'm not mistaken, Rudiger measures 1.94 metres and if it was apparently such a brutal blow, it would have left him sitting down, but he immediately gets up.

"It may be a yellow [card] but sending a player off for that, there would be no players left on the field.

"It's the same story. It is normal, and it has become normal [referees favouring Madrid] and that's not right and it would be nice if we could all compete in the same way."

Correa's dismissal was Atleti's third in three meetings with Madrid this season after Stefan Savic's red card during a 3-1 extra-time loss in the Copa del Rey quarter-final and Mario Hermoso's sending off in September's league defeat.

Simeone is frustrated by favouritism towards Carlo Ancelotti's men, especially at the Santiago Bernabeu, saying: "In the Copa del Rey, they could have sent off Dani Ceballos for a foul that was a red.

"Today, Angel's foul they saw it that way. You have all seen it, there are things that are very clear.

"[VAR] can go either way, sometimes in your favour, sometimes against you.

"However, every time we come here [to the Bernabeu], it goes against us."

Despite ending a run of four straight games away from home against Madrid without scoring, Simeone felt his team should have picked up all three points, declaring: "We are left with the feeling that we could have won the game.

"We knew that Madrid at the end of games are very dangerous.

"We overcame Reinildo's injury, also recovered from Correa's sending off and took the lead. We could have defended better so as not to concede the equaliser, but we must continue on this positive path."

Page 1 of 19
© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.