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Simeone aims dig at Guardiola after Atletico and City players scrap in tunnel

Uefa are yet to confirm whether they will open an investigation into the incidents

Atletico Madrid and Manchester City players fight during the Champions League quarterfinal second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. — AFP
Atletico Madrid and Manchester City players fight during the Champions League quarterfinal second leg at the Wanda Metropolitano in Madrid. — AFP

By AFP/Reuters

Published: Thu 14 Apr 2022, 11:47 PM

Last updated: Thu 14 Apr 2022, 11:51 PM

Diego Simeone aimed a thinly veiled dig at Pep Guardiola on a feisty and bad-tempered night at the Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday, where Manchester City’s advance to the semifinals was overshadowed by a brawl on the pitch and in the tunnel.

Simeone was asked after the match if he felt Guardiola had disrespected him during the quarterfinal, which City won 1-0 on aggregate after a goalless draw in the second leg.

“Often people who have a great vocabulary, who are very intelligent, they can praise you with contempt. But those of us with a little less vocabulary, we are not stupid either,” Simeone said.

After the first leg Guardiola said “in pre-history, today and in a hundred thousand years, attacking a 5-5 (formation) is very difficult”, which was taken by some to be a criticism of Atletico’s defensive style.

Guardiola insisted he had only ever praised Atletico’s resilience. “He can play how he wants, all I have said is it is very hard to play against them,” said Guardiola.

“I have always respected this institution and this team, I would never dare to attack this team. When a team knows how to defend like no other team in the world, it’s difficult.”

Neither Simeone nor Guardiola wanted to comment on the behaviour of their players during the match or in the tunnel.

“I didn’t see it,” said Simeone. “I was on the pitch applauding the fans. By the time I went inside there was nobody there.”

Police entered the tunnel after full-time as the scuffles continued between the players, with video footage showing Atletico’s Stefan Savic shouting at City’s Jack Grealish, while an incensed Sime Vrsaljko had to be held back from confronting Kyle Walker. At one point, Vrsaljko appears to spit across the tunnel in Walker’s direction.

Uefa are yet to confirm whether they will open an investigation into the incidents.

Atletico’s Felipe was sent off towards the end of the match after taking a swipe at Phil Foden, the Manchester City midfielder who was already wearing a bandage around his head from an earlier Felipe challenge. The tackle, and Foden’s fall, sparked a brawl in the corner of the pitch, as players, substitutes and staff rushed in. The scrap hampered Atletico’s momentum as they pushed for the goal they needed to take the tie to extra-time.

Atletico felt City’s players were wasting time. “I don’t know if it was us wasting time or them getting involved in stupid fights,” said City defender Aymeric Laporte. “We know what they’re like and what they’ve done before.”

Atletico Madrid captain, Koke, said: “Lots of the time we get criticised for these things. So let’s see what people think of this today. You’ve seen it so make your own minds up.”

Guardiola praised Atletico for a great second-half when they came on strong against City and pushed hard for a goal that would have taken the game to extra time.

“They put us with our back against the wall,” Guardiola said. “It was like we have forgotten how to play, but it was all their merit. Today we are celebrating getting through, but by the second part we had, we easily could be eliminated.”

The Man City boss blamed the fixture calendar and last weekend’s Premier League match against title rivals Liverpool for their lack of intensity in the second half.

“We came from a difficult game on the weekend with no time to prepare to this one,” Guardiola said.

Man City now will face the 13 times winners Real Madrid after they eliminated holders Chelsea.

“They are the Champions League kings, I’m looking forward to it,” Guardiola told reporters.

“It is the third Champions League semifinal in our history and the second in a row, but if we play like we did in the second half against Atletico, forget it. We won’t have anything to do against Real.”


First leg

April 26: Manchester City vs 
Real Madrid, 11 pm

April 27: Liverpool vs 
Villarreal, 11 pm

Second leg

May 3: Villarreal vs 
Liverpool, 11 pm

May 4: Real Madrid vs Manchester City, 11 pm

May 28, Final, Stade de France, Paris, 11 pm

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