Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has showered praise upon FC Barcelona’s Lionel Messi after the forward starred in a draw with Atletico Madrid on Saturday.
Although Saul Niguez and Luis Suarez were on the scoresheet as Atletico Madrid took on Barca in the 1-1 draw, Messi had great influence in the game — first striking the post in the second half and then playing a role in building Barca’s momentum ahead of Suarez’s late equaliser after Saul unleashed an unstoppable attempt beyond him from 25 yards in the 21st minute.
After the game, Simeone singled out his compatriot — who also fired Argentina to the 2018 World Cup with a hat-trick against Ecuador earlier — for particular praise as he revelled in the occasion at Wanda Metropolitano.
“The stadium was wonderful, we had another night of brilliant football, and with the impressive Messi — extraordinary,” Simeone said. “Messi was the only one who you could see where, every time he touched the ball, something different could happen.”
“He was certainly not as tired as many expected after the trip [from international duty in South America] because he played a tremendous match.”
Meanwhile, French forward Antoine Griezmann failed to find the net at the Wanda for the first time for Atleti, but Simeone believed this was his best performance at the stadium yet.
Indeed, Griezmann had to be denied twice by Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, first by a fine one-handed save at his near post after Andrés Iniesta gave away the ball again, this time with his left leg, after the Frenchman had driven into the box by nutmegging Gerard Pique.
“For me, this was the best game that Griezmann has had at home,” he said. “He twice worked the goalkeeper, he countered with [Angel] Correa and he held the ball up well.”
“It was a great game between two teams with different characteristics. Our first half was very good, the goalkeeper [ter Stegen] was key. From the 60th minute, Barca attacked with more clarity due to their need to score.”