ATLÉTICO

Simeone: "Griezmann's situation in one word? I'll do it in two: no comment"

Simeone spoke ahead of the Mallorca game and was asked twice about Griezmann being demoted to the subs' bench at Barcelona. He refused to give his opinion.

Diego Simeone attended the media ahead of tomorrow's game against Mallorca. He was asked three times about Antoine Griezmann but refused to be drawn in to talk about the Barcelona forward who is going through a rough patch at Camp Nou. 

What exactly has changed with Atleti? Is it the team's game, the players' fitness, mentality…? “We ended with a great performance against Liverpool, getting a result which we knew would give us a new impulse and the boost we needed to get ourselves back on track in LaLiga. Sometimes we can be too quick to judge ourselves. LaLiga is the prize for being the most consistent team. We can't evaluate that at the moment as the competition hasn't finished. But we knew that the result against Liverpool would give us a push. After that football was put on hold, the players trained well in their own homes, we returned to the league in exactly the way we had hoped with our first three games. The squad is really well, we have a good group and everyone gets along well. We still have to continue improving, we have five difficult games left and we cannot allow ourselves to stray from our next objective which is the Mallorca.

The lack of injuries has been a help to the team... “Its obvious that, with all of the players fit, competition for a place in the side will be greater. Being able to use five substitutes gives us the chance to play with various different formations during the same game, although the players improve as the competition progresses and when that happens, many teams might stop using all five subs”.

Atleti could have been contenders to win LaLiga playing as they are now? “You could ask the same question to Villarreal, who are the best team at the moment - more than Real Madrid or us for the results they've been getting. You cannot look back - or too far ahead, it's been a long year and we are in a transition period, as I said five months ago - many people were surprised by that but it's true - without putting the club's objective to one side. We've brought in a lot of young players, new players who have been adapting superbly - something which both the club and the team needed. Let's hope they can keep it up and we can finish the season as high up the table as possible”.

The TV images of your face when Griezmann came on as a sub on 90 minutes: “No comment”.

Have you ever had to apologise to a player for bringing them on when a game was practically over?: “I don't drive a truck, I drive a team of players who work for a big club like Atleti. In our team, three minutes can be decisive; we lost the Champions League final in three minutes so for me, three minutes are important”.

Do you think Griezmann made a mistake by leaving Atleti to join Barcelona? “I don't want to be disrespectful in my reply but right now, we have a great deal to play for during this important part of the season and so those issues are not important for us”.

Griezmann's substitution. That image of you biting your lip was worth a thousand words. Can you sum it up in one? “I can do it in two - no comment”.