Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has responded after a dig from Jurgen Klopp over his side’s style of play after defeating Liverpool.
The Spanish giants advanced to the quarter-finals of the Champions League on Wednesday night after a 4-2 win on aggregate against the Reds.
It came after a 3-2 victory at Anfield on the night, with all three Atleti goals coming in extra-time after the hosts had dominated the opening 90 minutes but failed to take their chances and came up against a resolute defensive outfit.
As seen in the video below in his post-match interview with BT Sport, Klopp seemingly took a dig at Atleti and Simeone’s style of play, criticising their defensive mindset.
“I don’t understand with the quality they have the football they play. They could play proper football but they stand deep and have counter-attacks,” he said.
“We accept it of course but it doesn’t feel right tonight. I realise I am a really bad loser, especially when the boys put such an effort in against world class players on the other side who defend with two rows of four.”
As per ESPN, Simeone didn’t bite when responding to the comments, as he took a classy approach and simply insisted his side play to their strengths.
“[We play] to win. With our weapons, to win,” he said. “Respecting our identity, respecting the characteristics of the players, exploiting the defects of the opponents, that’s how we play.
“This will go down in our history,” he added. “It fills us with pride as a club, to be once more one of the top eight clubs in Europe.”
While it may not be pleasing to the eye for everyone, Simeone has every right to adopt the approach he does and furthermore, be delighted when it works and leads to success.
Not every team is capable of playing the same style as the likes of Liverpool or Manchester City, and so they have to adapt to their own strengths and come up with a gameplan to nullify them and come out on top.
That’s exactly what Atletico did across both legs as they won home and away, and while they needed some luck along the way, there is surely no reason to begrudge them a place in the quarter-finals as Klopp and Liverpool will have been fully aware of the strategy and mentality that they would bring to Anfield with a one-goal lead to protect.
That said, it’s easy to see Klopp’s perspective too, and in an ideal world we would have had two sides attacking non-stop in a different type of thriller. However, that was never going to be a realistic outcome.
"It's difficult to explain these goals, to be honest. The boys fought hard."
"We will come again, and go again. But for now, we are out."
A disappointed Jurgen Klopp is keen to not get too despondent despite the Reds losing hold of their European crown…
— Football on BT Sport (@btsportfootball) March 11, 2020