Atletico Madrid will be facing FC Barcelona this weekend in La Liga. While that match will be a much-awaited fixture at any time, it is particularly important now for Barcelona manager Ronald Koeman's career. However, he found unexpected support from his rival coach, Diego Simeone.
It has been well publicised that Koeman's job is on the line this weekend, and he will likely face the sack if Barcelona fail to defeat Atletico. However, in his pre-match press conference, Simeone said that "Koeman has shown a lot of character and I wish him all the best." He claims that he does not read the rumours, and that each person is worried about his own personal situation.
"I know he must be in an uncomfortable situation. All of us coaches respect Koeman, and I always will," he said, as quoted by Marca.
Despite Barcelona's recent lacklustre form, Simeone is not underestimating the Catalan giants. "Barcelona have a great squad and staff. It'll be a great game and we're completely focused," he said.
Apart from being rivals on the pitch, the two clubs have also been strongly linked via the transfer market. French forward Antoine Griezmann built his career with Atletico before making the move to the Camp Nou in a short-lived stint. He has since returned to Atletico, where Simeone wasted no time in welcoming him back into the fold.
"We always used to put him out on the right or left. Players are privileged, the most important thing is that they're ready to play where the team needs them," he said about Griezmann. "He's a player who has the ability to help the team wherever we play him."
Meanwhile, former Barcelona forward Luis Suarez was unceremoniously kicked out of the Catalan club, and later played a key role in Atletico's run to the La Liga title last season.
"I'm happy. They work well together," Simeone said about Griezmann, Suarez and Portuguese forward Joao Felix.
Meanwhile, Simeone refused to comment about the fact that this will be his club's first opportunity to face Barcelona in the post-Messi era. "I'm only focusing on Atletico, that's what I'm interested in," he said.