Diego Simeone has hit back at Jurgen Klopp’s criticism of Atletico Madrid’s performance as the Spanish side dumped Liverpool out of the Champions League on Wednesday.
The reigning European champions cancelled out Saul Niguez’ first-leg goal with a strike from Georginio Wijnaldum and took the lead in extra-time thanks to Roberto Firmino.
Did Atletico play ‘anti-football’ against Liverpool? Five things to know…
- Atletico Madrid beat Liverpool 3-2 after extra-time on Wednesday to seal a 4-2 aggregate Champions League win.
- Liverpool managed 34 shots during the match, 11 of which were on target, to Atletico’s 10.
- After the match, Klopp was critical of Simeone’s defensive style of play.
- Liverpool attempted 62 cross during the match — the most in a single game since the 2016/17 season at least.
- Simeone has defended his tactics, insisting he sets his team out to win.
However, despite resisting a relentless Liverpool onslaught, Atletico fought back to win 3-2 at Anfield on the night with a Marcos Llorente brace and a late finish from Alvaro Morata sealing a 4-2 aggregate win.
After the match, Klopp was critical of Simeone’s style of play, questioning why a team with such quality is unable to be more expansive.
“I don’t understand with the quality they have that they play this kind of football. I don’t understand that,” said the Liverpool boss.
“When I see players like Llorente, Koke, Saul… they could play proper football but they stand deep in their own half and have counter-attacks.”
But when asked about Klopp’s criticism, Simeone replied: “I respect his identity and the quality footballers they have.
“We try to exploit deficiencies in the opponent. That’s what we do. And we try to win.”
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The Argentine tactician did, however, concede that the result was unfair on Liverpool, with his Atletico side having an extra 30 minutes to find an away goal.
“What I have to say, and will be saying at the next UEFA coaches’ meeting, is what I think is unfair,” added Simeone.
“Today was unjust because we had 30 minutes of extra time to score three away goals. Liverpool never had that. We had 30 more minutes to score an away goal and Liverpool didn’t. That’s not fair.
“The rule favoured us today but it might go against us in the future. Liverpool had 30 minutes fewer to score an away goal. That’s wrong.”
Simeone: Jan Oblak is our Messi
Liverpool managed 11 shots on target during the Anfield showdown but Jan Oblak — considered by many to be the best goalkeeper in the world — was able to limit the Reds to just two goals on the night.
And Simeone has hailed his shot-stopper, dubbing him Atletico’s version of Lionel Messi.
“He (Oblak) is as important as the others, as much as (Stefan) Savic, (Renan) Lodi, Felipe, (Joao) Felix,” he told Marca. “But in Oblak, we have the best goalkeeper in the world, that is true.
“He is as important to us, as Messi is to Barcelona.”
Oblak’s performance was in stark contrast to that of Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian — filling in for the injured Alisson — who was at fault for the first goal with a poor clearance and, perhaps, could have done better for each of Atletico’s efforts.
As such, Spanish outlets AS and Marca were so unimpressed with their compatriot, they failed to give Adrian a match rating at all.