‘€400m between us and Barca’

Atletico Madrid Coach Diego Simeone believes his side are doing well to stay level with Barcelona considering the difference in budget.

The sides drew 0-0 at Vicente Calderon on Saturday and have equal points at the half-way stage of La Liga.

Simeone felt it was an even game and was happy with his team’s performance, praising the effort of his players in what was a hard-fought match.

“We pressed them well,” Simeone said at his post-match Press conference.

“We closed the spaces in midfield and blocked off the diagonals for Pedro and Alexis.

“Both teams wanted to play to their strengths and cancel the other’s out.”

“There weren’t many chances for either team but it was exciting. Both teams wanted to win but we’re at the top of the table, so we’re good.”

Simeone added that the referee, Mateu Lahoz, had to warn him of his conduct on the touchline – but far from criticising Lahoz, Simeone praised the official.

“The referee warned me and he was right. He’d have been right to send me off. He had a great game and wasn’t noticed.

“We tried to play an intelligent game. Barca score a lot of goals in their game and if you give them a chance they’ll hurt you.

“We had our chances and I’m happy with our game.”

Simeone was at pains to praise his squad for their success in the first half of the season, but wants to focus on future challenges.

“50 points is a lot. They have earned it, worked hard. They have done everything that was needed and I congratulate them.

“Now they can rest because on Tuesday we have another important game in the Copa del Rey, which we want to stay in.

“We said before the game we respect Barca. There’s a small budget difference of €400m between us so I think with the tools we have, we’ve struggled and fought to get here.

“We have a good group of players that believe they can win every game.”

Tags Atletico Diego Simeone