Diego Simeone
Diego Simeone

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone says he could clearly see how Lionel Messi handled the ball in the lead-up to the second Barcelona goal in his side’s 3-1 defeat at Camp Nou on Sunday.
Simeone’s side were second best and only got back into the game in the second half thanks to a contentious penalty converted by Mario Mandzukic after Messi was harshly adjudged to have tripped Jesus Gamez.
But Messi also caused controversy as he used his arm to control the ball before embarking on a remarkable run which saw him set up Luis Suarez for Barca’s crucial second goal.
“I protested the handball to Messi and he said it wasn’t. That’s normal,” Simeone said after the game. “Later, it was a great goal but I could see the hand as clear as TV.”
However, Atleti were fortunate to win their penalty and Jose Gimenez was lucky to escape a red card for a crunching tackle which left Neymar’s ankle bloodied and bruised.
“We played a bad first half and Barcelona were better,” the Argentine admitted. “We couldn’t find the ball or any space. We were more competitive in the second half and we came close to an equaliser before they scored the third.
“They were decisive in the first and third goals and they were intense when they lost the ball, which didn’t allow us to counterattack. They are a great team.”
Atleti now face Real Madrid on Thursday in the second leg of the sides’ Copa del Rey last-16 tie with Simeone’s side 2-0 up following Wednesday’s win at the Vicente Calderon.
“I’m not thinking about Madrid right now,” the 44-year-old said.