Fernando Torres hailed Lionel Messi for his ability to “change everything in a second” after Atletico Madrid’s 1-0 defeat by Barcelona in La Liga on Sunday.
The No 10 popped up with both the match-winner and the goal that secured La Blaugrana a fifth Spanish title in seven seasons just shy of the hour mark at the Vicente Calderon, and the striker was left in awe of his rival after the game.
“Until we went 1-0 down, we felt they controlled the game but weren’t threatening us,” he told reporters.
“We still had chances from set-pieces and gave some away, but they had Messi, who eventually changed everything in a second.
“They were comfortable, controlling the game, but didn’t want to take risks because they knew they could wait until one player made the difference.
“Nonetheless, I think the approach of the two teams was very respectful and very even.
“We had chances to take the lead but didn’t take them, and in the end we conceded that [Messi] goal and were unable to create danger, but overall I was happy with the team.
“Granada’s an awkward venue because we’ll be playing against a team who are playing for their lives.
“We’re two teams who still have a lot to play for, but for now we must only think about beating them. We only rely on ourselves, and that’s a good thing.
“It’s great for the League that there are so many teams fighting at both ends of the table.
“It’s good because it increases the level [of competition] and interest in the League and many teams are fighting for the same objective [as each other].
“We must be realistic and know that we’re fighting with two giants [in Barca and Real Madrid].
“Under normal conditions they’ll always be ahead of us, but we’re getting closer to them.
"We haven’t just won titles, but maintained our performance and consistency levels, which are most important, in recent seasons.
“Last year, the team were champions [of Spain], and this year we still had a chance [of retaining the title] with five or six games to go.
“We know we can compete. We have already and will continue to do so.”