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Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has lavished praise on Barcelona superstar Lionel Messi by saying that the 27-year-old is better than the attacking trio of Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale, and Karim Benzema combined.
This is seen as a direct dig at archrivals Real Madrid in a bid to destabilise them. Many expected Atletico to be a non-challenger in the title race this season, but this has not been the case as Diego Simeone has once again been able to stun the opposition by rebuilding his team in such a short span of time. After the arrival of Fernando Torres in January, the team is looking stronger than ever before.
Incredibly, they remain only four points behind table leaders Madrid although it could potentially widened to seven points if Carlo Ancelotti’s men win the game in hand. Simeone recently witnessed Atletico suffered a 3-2 defeat at the hands of Barcelona in the Copa del Rey. Read more »
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Barcelona have been handed yet another difficult Champions League last 16 tie after they paired up against Manchester City, who are the reigning Premier league champions. Manager Luis Enrique has accepted that this is the most difficult opponents that they could have received, which is disappointing considering that they won the group.
However, he is confident that Barcelona will come out on the successful side just as they did last season. City were the opponents for Barcelona at this stage last season as well, but they secured a comfortable victory on aggregate over the two legs.
City have definitely improved in the last 12 months and Enrique has been quick to acknowledge this. He says that he does not want to discuss the game in detail right now since it takes place only in February. City are going through a tough spell when it comes to injuries. A number of their important players like Vincent Kompany, Sergio Aguero, and Edin Dzeko have been sidelined with injuries in the last few matches. City boss Manuel Pellegrini is likely to welcome them back in the middle of January, which gives the Premier League club enough time to get them back to full fitness in time for the match against Barcelona late in February.
“I am sure it’ll be a very hard match. The important thing in games like these is for us to be in good condition. If we’re on form, we are good enough to cope with any competition … I always think positively, and I know we are quite capable of getting through the round against Manchester City. He’s [Aguero] probably up there in the top ten or so players. But for me the number one is Leo Messi. Everyone else comes after him,” said the Barcelona boss after the draw was made for the last 16 rounds.
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