Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has admitted that he still regards La Liga rivals Barcelona as the best team in the world, ahead of Saturday’s meeting between the two sides.
Two of the current top three in Spanish football go head to head on Saturday night as Atletico host champions Barcelona at the Wanda Metropolitano, with just a point separating Simeone’s side in third from the Catalan giants at the top of the table.
Atletico are looking to throw their opponents as the Spanish champions this season, but ahead of the crunch clash this weekend, Simeone has insisted that he still counts Barcelona as the world’s best side. Quoted by Marca, the Argentine said: “I consider Barcelona to be the best team in the world in recent years, despite not having that consistency in Europe.
“We know they are dangerous and whether they play [Philippe] Coutinho or Malcom, they will have speed and multiple dangerous players. We have tried to avoid injuries and for this game, we will only have three absences. We know how important the game is.”
Atletico’s hopes of success against Barcelona are weakened by the likely absences of star defenders Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez, with the Uruguayan duo each suffering from muscular injuries.
Those fitness problems mean that Simeone may be forced to field a makeshift defence on Saturday - a daunting prospect against a Barcelona side which are fully loaded with firepower.
Atletico famously pipped Barcelona to the league crown in the 2013/14 season, and with Diego Simeone’s side pushing the Catalan giants closely once more this term, Los Rojiblancos may fancy their chances of repeating the feat again this season.