After his team’s 1-0 Champions League quarterfinal win at home to Leicester City on Wednesday night, Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said a lack of cutting edge in attack meant the tie remained evenly balanced ahead of next Tuesday’s second leg.
Atletico dominated from the off and went ahead on 28 minutes when Griezmann converted a controversial penalty he won with a stunning 80 yard run on the counter attack.
While Simeone’s side dominated possession for the entire game they could not build on their lead and Leicester goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel had just two saves to make all game, both from Atletico veteran Fernando Torres.
Simeone told his postmatch news conference that he was happy with how his team had played, however he wished they had been able to turn their domination into more chances.
“It is clear we would have preferred a bigger scoreline,” Simeone said. “We knew we were playing a team who knew what they were doing and what they wanted. That is what we expected in the game.
“I am happy with the work of my team, although the tie remains very open: 50 percent of the tie for each team. The way we work here there will be nobody who feels comfortable that we will go through.”
Simeone added that Leicester had defended very well, especially in the second half, and had seemed happy to take a 1-0 scoreline ahead of the return game.
“It was a very good game from our team, we needed to be a bit more clinical in attack to add to the result,” he said. “But the rival, at 1-0 down in the second half, closed up very well at the back. We could not really create more chances. It seemed they were holding on for the second leg.”
Simeone was full of praise for man-of-the-match Griezmann, saying the France international was now a complete player who was upping his performances at the most important stage of the season.
“Antoine is a complete player,” he said. “I do not know what position he plays in truth, he works in midfield, assists like a No. 10, and finishes like a No. 9. He keeps improving, and knows this end of the season is an important moment for him. And he is taking that one with the sense of responsibility that he has.”
Although Leicester had no shots on target all game, and England centre-forward Jamie Vardy completed zero passes during his 77 minutes on the pitch according to the UEFA stats, Simeone said that the second leg in England would be very different and the “pure football” atmosphere at the King Power Stadium would be a factor.
“Today [Atletico goalkeeper Jan] Oblak was not very involved,” the Argentine said. “[But] we expect a fantastic night of football, with an English atmosphere, the fans on top of the pitch. The rival will feel very strong in this atmosphere. A pure football night.”
Source: Dermot Corrigan