Simeone ready for Barca battle

Diego Simeone insists Atletico Madrid are ready to fight Barcelona for both La Liga and the Champions League after Saturday’s 5-1 demolition of Real Betis.

Antoine Griezmann’s brace, plus goals from Fernando Torres, Juanfran and Thomas Partey and a debut for cantera Nacho Monsalve, who capitalised on injuries in central defence, left Atleti just six points behind Barca – who lost the Clasico – and Simeone immediately turned his attentions to Camp Nou on Tuesday after the game.

“[Nacho Monsalve] did exactly how I think he’d do, he was very good and calm and strengthens us in the future,” the Coach said.

“We’re pleased that a young lad debuted, and this is a wakeup call for the players in the academy.

“When [a youngster] trains with us, it’s for a reason and we’ll always see how they develop.

“We played a 4-3-1-2, we broke through [Dani] Ceballos and had depth in our play thanks to Torres and Griezmann.

“It’s not easy to play in this system and we did very well. At the end of the game, I saw hope and enthusiasm.

“I’ve always believed it’s important to excite the fans when they see the table in the newspapers every Monday, Tuesday or Thursday.

“The Copa del Rey and Champions League are very important, but the fans live for these episodes.

“The tournament which offers stability and is read about every day in the newspapers is the League.

“All matches against [Barca] are different and we’ll prepare for it in the best way possible.

“We must continue insisting [on results] and working hard so we can enter the last five [League] games with the hope of fighting Barca.”

Tags Diego Simeone