Diego Simeone is full of respect for Ronald Koeman and sympathises with his opposite number’s current situation as Atletico Madrid prepare to host Barcelona in LaLiga.
Atletico lost their previous league match against Deportivo Alaves and are aiming to avoid suffering consecutive defeats in the competition for the first time since 2019.
Simeone’s side sit in fourth and have won just one of their last 11 top-flight home games against Barca, who are unbeaten in their first LaLiga six matches this term, though there is mounting pressure on head coach Ronald Koeman.
Reports suggest the under-fire Koeman is soon to be relieved of his duties at Camp Nou, but Simeone spoke highly of the Dutchman ahead of Saturday’s meeting in the Spanish capital.
“He will surely be in an uncomfortable situation and, on our side, I imagine that all of his colleagues respect him as a coach and he will surely always do well,” Simeone told reporters at Friday’s pre-match news conference.
“I am not the one to value anything. I respect Koeman very much, he has shown personality and I wish him the best. As for the transition, we are very busy with ourselves and we do not worry about what happens on another team.
“We think about the value of the rival players, Barcelona has great footballers, a very good coach with a lot of personality and we focus on doing well ourselves, improving ourselves.”
The fixture may well signify the end for Koeman, who will be absent from the touchline after his dismissal against Cadiz, but it also sees Luis Suarez go up against his former club once again.
The forward has scored against 30 of the 31 opponents he has faced in LaLiga, with Barca the only side Suarez has failed to find the net against so far.
However, Simeone insisted there was no change in motivation for Suarez, while he also praised the versatility of Antoine Griezmann following his return to the club from Barcelona.
“I see him [Suarez] as always, since he arrived here, with the same hunger, enthusiasm and we try to empower him that the best thing he has is the goal,” Simeone said.
“We always put him [Griezmann] where he normally plays. Footballers always have a privileged place, I like to play here.
“The important thing is where the team needs it and Antoine I have no doubt that where we put him, the other day as a midfielder, I am sure he can help us wherever we put him.”
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