SOCCER

Simeone shows sympathy for Koeman: "I respect him a lot"

Atlético Madrid sit fourth in LaLiga as they look to increase the pressure on Ronald Koeman at Barcelona when the two teams met at the Wanda this weekend.

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Simeone has sympathy for Barca boss Koeman: I respect him very much

Diego Simeone is full of respect for Ronald Koeman and sympathises with his opposite number's current situation as Atlético Madrid prepare to host Barcelona in LaLiga.

Atleti keen to make amends

Atlético lost their previous league match against Alavés 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 Barça, who are unbeaten in their first LaLiga six matches this season, though there is mounting pressure on 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 judge 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 at another club. We think about the value of the rival players, Barcelona have great players, a very good coach with a lot of personality and we focus on doing well ourselves, improving ourselves."

Suárez and Griezmann

The fixture may well signify the end for Koeman, who will be absent from the touchline after his dismissal against Cádiz, but it also sees Luis Suárez go up against his former club once again. The Uruguayan has scored against 30 of the 31 opponents he has faced in LaLiga, with Barça the only side he has failed to find the net against so far. However, Simeone insisted there was no change in motivation for Suárez, while he also praised the versatility of Antoine Griezmann following his return to the club from Barcelona.

"I see him [Suárez] 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."