Atletico haven't ruined pitch to upset Barcelona, jokes Simeone

The Argentine claims the playing surface is in a “bad state” but insisted it has nothing to do with the Blaugrana’s upcoming visit

Diego Simeone jokingly denied that Atletico Madrid have deliberately ruined the pitch ahead of Barcelona’s visit to the Vicente Calderon.

The Blaugrana are renowned for their passing football and it has been insinuated in the past that opponents have intentionally provided them with poor surfaces in order to metaphorically level the playing field.

The Catalans are due to face Atletico in a crunch Liga clash in the Spanish capital on September 12 and Simeone could not resist a little joke when asked about his side’s performance in Saturday’s 1-0 home win over Las Palmas.

“The pitch is in a bad state,” the Argentine told reporters. “When Barcelona come down here, they should know it’s not that way just for them!

“I think we played well, though. We tried to play and get the ball to our forwards.

“In the second half we had more depth but we need to improve our depth because we want possession that ends in chances.”

Jackson Martinez started for Atletico but the summer signing from Porto was unable to mark his first Liga appearance with a goal, with Antoine Griezmann deciding the game in the hosts’ favour with a free kick.

“Jackon worked very well,” Simeone aded. “It’s difficult to get him off the ball with his back to goal and he helped us get forward.

“We weren’t able to get the ball to him in the area and he’ll grow the more games he plays.

“It was a good team performance in general. We’re happy with everybody’s work today.”

Yannick Carrasco was left on the bench, though, and when pressed on why the former Monaco man had been denied the chance to make his Atleti debut, Simeone replied: “Because I decided that other lads would play and I because I knew other players were better suited to this game.”