Diego Simeone suggested he felt disrespected by Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola at the end of an enthralling Champions League quarter-final tie.
There was only one goal across the two legs, scored by Kevin De Bruyne in the first match at the Etihad Stadium.
But Atletico pushed City all the way in a goalless draw at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Despite losing Felipe to his second red campaign card in a frantic finale.
The two teams registered just six shots on target over the whole tie – the fewest since four between Deportivo La Coruna and Porto in 2003-04 – yet City held firm, becoming only the fourth team since the introduction of the last 16 to keep a clean sheet in both legs of the first two knockout rounds.
While City’s defensive strength saw them through, Simeone seemingly took issue with Guardiola’s assessment of Atletico’s largely conservative approach. Atletico had frustrated their opponents in Manchester while not attempting a single shot.
Simeone said after Wednesday’s draw:
“I have no reason to give my opinion about what someone else says, good or bad.
“Knowledgeable people with a great vocabulary can show they despise you while using words of praise. But those who don’t have the same vocabulary are not stupid.”
Guardiola insisted he had not criticised Atletico, speculating whether the reporter who quizzed him on the topic had in fact been “one of those who said the time of Cholo Simeone was over”.
“Don’t tell me,” the City boss replied. “I have always had good words of praise for this club and this team. Cholo can play how he wants, obviously. I’ve said I appreciate it, and you saw it here.”
But Guardiola still focused on the difficulties of playing a team that approaches the game like Atletico.
“They did what they do very well,” he said. “It’s been like this here before, it was like this tonight, and it will be like this for goodness knows how long.
“They’re a team that knows how to play this way like no one else.”
Simeone was certainly content with the way Atletico handled their task, if not the result, while he refused to question City’s apparent time-wasting – an issue that bristled with club captain Koke, who said the LaLiga champions would be accused of “anti-football” for following suit.
“I think that football has a lot of different dimensions, and I’m not going to comment on how Manchester City behaved.
“It is you [the media] who are very capable. You see everything very clinically.
“Obviously, you always express an opinion because football is full of opinions, but we keep ours to ourselves.
“I think playing against possibly the best team in the world and showing that we were able to compete very well doesn’t leave me feeling okay.
“It doesn’t leave me feeling happy because winning is the only thing that leaves me happy.
“I feel f***ed, but it gives me the peace of mind that when I go to bed, I will say that today my father, Luis Aragones and those who passed away in the pandemic will have seen from above their team continues to compete extremely well.”
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