FC Barcelona manager Gerardo Martino is proud of his team’s performance against Atletico Madrid as the tie hangs in balance after a draw in the first leg.
It was a wonderful game to watch for the neutrals as both sides produced fine performances and perhaps rightfully neither of the teams deserved to lose. The match started on a sour note for both the teams as Atletico Madrid’s gamble to play an unfit Diego Costa failed miserably, while Gerard Pique had to be substituted with an injury.
Costa’s substitute Diego scored with a wonderful strike in the second half to provide Atletico with a lead, but Barcelona responded back almost immediately with a moment of magic from Andres Iniesta and a calm finish by Neymar. Barcelona finished the match strongly as Thibaut Courtois produced some fine saves, and Atletico left Barcelona with a draw and a crucial away goal.
Gerardo Martino, who has come under increasing pressure this season, expressed his delight at performance produced by his side, especially in the second half. He couldn’t confirm the extent of Pique’s injury, but was pleased with the way his replacement, Marc Bartra, performed after coming on.
“I am full of pride in the way in which we played. If we continue like this, there are chances for success. Our intention in every game is to go out and win, so we will have to go [to Madrid] and do what we always try to do. After [Atlético’s] goal you saw the best of Barcelona. In the second half we moved the ball about well and played with depth. There were also good moves in the final third and several shots [on goal].
“We played as a team and added a lot of intensity. I cannot say anything about [the injury to Gerard Piqué] yet. Sometimes unfortunate things happen in games. [His replacement Marc] Bartra did very well when he came on. The tie is finely balanced. I do not know if the factor of playing at home second counts for anything, but like I said, everything is evenly balanced.” – The Barcelona manager said after the match.
Diego Simeone was also delighted with the result and was in particularly pleased with Diego’s contribution in this draw. He also revealed that Diego Costa’s injury will be assessed later today and that they are hoping for the best. Simeone was also confident about after producing a good performance in the second leg at home, egged on by the fans.
“I am really happy for Diego and for the goal he scored tonight. He needed that. He came on in a very important moment in the game. He will be fundamental for us from now until the end of the season. Diego Costa did not want to come off the pitch. We will see what [type of injury] he has tomorrow – we are hoping for the best.
“Tonight we played against a great rival. We have a team with huge heart and it made me so happy to be able to compete against these opponents. It was a passionate affair. From a tactical point of view, it was a beautiful game. Both teams played to their strengths and stayed true to their style. The Vicente Calderón will be bursting with atmosphere [in the return leg].” – The Atletico Madrid manager said.