MADRID, 2 Dic. (EUROPA PRESS) –
The FC Barcelona coach, Xavi Hernández, has announced that goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen will not be available for this Sunday's match against Atlético de Madrid, a rival that is “in a good moment of form”, and has recognized that Simeone's words about Joao Félix are “a stick.”
Simeone's words are a stick. “Of course they are a pain, but here I am talking to you about what I see. It is not my concern. The Joao that I have seen from day one is happy, hard-working, dynamic, who has adapted well to the group, whom people love, joker… I have no complaints,” he declared at a press conference.
In this sense, he believes that the 'Cholo' statements should “serve as motivation.” “It happened to him on the day of Porto, that he is from Benfica, it motivated him and helped us achieve that important result in 'Champions'. The fact of playing against his former team must be a motivation for him. He is very motivated, happy “He is giving us a lot, he is involved, he is being constant… I am delighted with his performance and how he has adapted to the group,” he noted.
However, he did not want to comment on Antoine Griezmann's past at Barça. “I was not with Griezmann and I cannot give my opinion, but what I can say is that he is in an extraordinary moment. He is a very capable footballer, he seems happy, enjoying his football, and making many differences for Atlético. “We will have to pay attention. He works a lot for the team, he seems like a great footballer to me,” he explained.
In addition, he acknowledged that he spoke with Álvaro Morata to test him about a possible incorporation to his team. “I spoke with him directly. We had a conversation. There was the possibility that he could come to Barça. He is a very interesting footballer: he attacks spaces, he is in a good moment of form, he works for the team, he is generous… He is a footballer that I like. Tomorrow the forward will be very good. Morata and Griezmann are two world-class forwards,” he stressed.
Regarding the match, he acknowledged that it is “important” because “it is a direct rival.” “He is in a good moment of form. We need the fans in full force tomorrow, it is very important that they go up to Montjuïc and encourage us until the end. One of the keys will be to dominate the game through the ball, have high circulation, attack the spaces… Simeone's men defend well with a low block, they are aggressive and it will be difficult, but we have numbers to play a great game and get the three points,” he said.
“The team has dropped in its game and that is why the expected results have not come. We have to recover the game, but we must be more constant in the game. We have to improve many things. We have done good, good things, but we have to improve in the game and, consequently, good results will come,” he added.
He also seemed happy “for the 'Champions' pass.” “It means a lot to us and the club. And now, calm down. Tomorrow we have to compete against a great team that has a great coach. They have faith that they can win, but so can we. The team is prepared to compete well,” he assured.
However, he does not consider that a victory could help calm the waters in 'Can Barça'. “And it wouldn't be until the game against Girona… Every game has to prove this. Tomorrow we have a very important test, against a 'top' team. And next Sunday, another one. That's Barça. You win peace of mind vouchers until the next game,” he said.
On the other hand, he highlighted Diego Pablo Simeone as an outstanding piece of the rojiblancos. “Of Atlético de Madrid I would highlight their coach, honestly. Every day that passes I have more respect and more admiration for 'Cholo' for everything he has achieved, with a style different from ours. Everything he has achieved is worthy of praise , has changed the history of the club in the last 15-20 years. It has adapted to the players it has; now it has better technically gifted players, with a more offensive profile. It is an opponent that presses you high and puts you in a low block , very supportive, everyone works for the team. This is the greatness of 'Cholo' as a coach, that everyone is plugged in,” he expressed.
In another order of things, he confirmed that German goalkeeper Marc-André Ter Stegen is “ruled out” for Sunday's clash after feeling discomfort, and showed confidence in Robert Lewandowski. “Robert is like a machine. He is a player who does not stop working, he has faith. He is practically a robot, he trains, trains… He is spectacular. He is the best player we have at the top and he will score goals and goals, I have no doubts “But we have to nurture him more, look for him more. Footballers go through streaks, but two days ago, he scored two goals. I'm not worried,” he said.
Finally, he downplayed the words of Ronald Araujo and Jules Koundé, ensuring that they do not like playing as full-backs. “The problem will be for their selectors, because in their country they also play as a winger. With me they have played as a center back and some do have to go to the wing when we defend. There is no debate, they play where they are told. I have spoken with both of them. and they adapt to the group,” he concluded.