Diego Simeone has hit back strongly after Pep Guardiola mentioned ‘prehistory’ when discussing Atletico Madrid’s tactics in the first leg of their Champions League quarter-final vs Manchester City.
Atletico were extremely defensive at the Etihad and failed to have a shot on goal in their 1-0 defeat, but Simeone and his players insisted after the game that they had a game plan and were still capable of reaching the semi-finals.
In one interview, Guardiola said of that defensive approach: “They have gone 5-5-0. Two lines of five. And in prehistory, today and in a hundred thousand years, attacking a 5-5 is very difficult. It is that Apart from the fact that they are very competitive and defend very well, there is no space.”
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The use of the word ‘prehistory’ was picked up by midfielder Koke after the game, who posted on social media: “In love with your story since prehistory. Proud to be from Atleti”.
It’s unlikely Guardiola was being derogatory or offensive towards Atletico in his comments, but Spanish media have picked up on the word and Simeone was asked about it in his pre-match press conference ahead of the second leg.
Refusing to trade insults, Simeone said: “I train since 2005 or 2006 and until today and I have never despised a colleague of mine. I always put myself in his place and I understand that there are different ways of expressing what he feels and lives .
“When one dismisses a colleague, I do not share it. Later, journalists and former players, of someone who hasn’t played for a long time and wants to say something different… the fish dies through the mouth, my father used to say. We can all have an opinion, but among colleagues we all have ways, I always respect my colleagues, always always.”
Midfielder Koke was also asked about Guardiola’s ‘prehistory’ comments, and he was slightly more diplomatic than his Instagram post last week.
“Each one has their own game philosophy, I like the way City plays,” he said. “I love the way Atleti play, with that passion, that grit, with people who have given everything. I love both styles.
“We have a plan [for both legs] and we are within that plan. We made a great effort there, we know that City manages games with possession and then attacking in small spaces. We are committed to winning the game, those who speak from outside let the want, we have our plan and we are going to try to execute it.”
Regarding his tactics for the second leg, Simeone said: “We are facing a team that plays very well, with a very good rhythm, with very fast transitions, they take advantage of the small spaces in the best way, but we are excited. What we were able to generate with the result in the first leg is illusion, but with that alone is not enough, you have to have facts and game and play.Words are not much use.
“We are not going to stray too far from what we do, looking for the right times to create what we want, hopefully we can combine better, faster transitions, more precision on counterattacks, that players with hierarchy have a fantastic night… One game to go anything can happen.
“They always play the same way, they have an installed, respected and applauded game philosophy. Great footballers, a great coach… They will press, they will attack, what we can do will be important.”
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