- Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid 1-0 at the Nou Camp on Sunday afternoon
- Lionel Messi scored the winner to take his team eight points clear in La Liga
- Diego Simeone says the title race would still be on if he only had Messi
Diego Simeone said the Spanish title race would still be on if he only had Lionel Messi on his side instead of playing against him.
After watching Messi score a free-kick in his third consecutive match in Barcelona’s 1-0 win over Atletico Madrid, Simeone said: ‘If Messi is wearing the Atletico Madrid shirt then we would win the game 1-0.
‘It’s like when you are playing in your neighbourhood and the other team have the best kid they win.’
Lionel Messi celebrates after scoring the winning goal against Atletico Madrid on Sunday
Diego Simeone said the Spanish title race would still be on if he had Lionel Messi on his side
Barcelona are now eight points clear at the top and have taken a huge step towards the title with 11 games left. But there were casualties with Andres Iniesta hobbling off in the first half with a hamstring injury.
The early suggestions are that he could be out for three weeks which would rule him out of Barcelona’s Champions League second leg against Chelsea in 10 days.
Valverde said: ‘We lose a lot when he is not there. We are going to wait to see the result of the tests.
‘At first we thought it was a serious one but then he carried on so we now will wait to see how bad it is.’
Messi score a free-kick in his third consecutive match to take his team eight points clear
Asked if the title race was now over because of the eight-point difference Simeone said: ‘Barcelona normally don’t lose four or five games so the numbers are there for all to see.
‘But we have played a 1-1 against them earlier in the season at home and a 1-0 here so we are not that far away from them.’
Simeone praised Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde saying: ‘What Valverde has done is fantastic.
‘After they lost Neymar they have moved from a 4-3-3 to 4-4-2. He has shown that there is not just one system in football there are just footballers.’
Atletico boss Simeone admitted the result means that the title race is all but over
Valverde returned the compliment saying: ‘The spirit that Atletico have is an example to us. To attack together and defend together. They have been doing that for a long time.’
Barcelona came through their biggest test despite only arriving back from their last league game in the early hours of Friday morning.
‘We had to play on Thursday and arrived back at 5am in the morning on Friday. So we are very proud of the huge effort we put in,’ said Sergio Busquets.
Ernesto Valverde added: ‘I’m proud of the way we suffered. It was such an important game. With a win we knew we would go eight points clear. But if we had lost then the gap would have been two points.
‘They always pose a threat with Diego Costa, Antoine Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro. And they don’t need much to create a chance from.’