Pep pours praise on Atletico show
Coach Pep Guardiola admitted Barcelona were not at their best after
seeing their unbeaten Primera Division record ended by Atletico
Barca started the clash at the Vicente Calderon reasonably
well but soon found themselves under serious pressure, going 2-0
down inside 23 minutes as well as seeing midfielder Seydou Keita
limp off to join an already-lengthy list of absentees.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s 27th-minute strike gave Barca some hope,
but the reigning champions could find no further in-roads during
the remainder of the match as Atletico belied their lowly league
position to stun the leaders.
Guardiola, whose side are now two points ahead of Real Madrid
at the summit, said: “My team didn’t play well, although you also
have to acknowledge the performance of our opponents.
“We’ve lacked the control that helps us play our game. We’ve
always been a team that ends up creating chances, and it’s been
harder than normal for us due to the great job that Atletico have
“They’ve been very well organised and you have to
congratulate them on the victory. We weren’t sharp and we were
lacking in our play and in our passing.”
Guardiola also refused to blame his side’s defeat on the fact
they were missing so many players in defence.
Due to injuries and suspension, Guardiola was without the
services of Eric Abidal, Dani Alves, Dmitro Chygrynskiy, Rafa
Marquez, Gerard Pique and Yaya Toure, and ended up employing young
winger Jeffren at right-back.
The early loss of Keita was also a setback and he is set to
be out for four weeks with a hamstring problem.
“I don’t want to make excuses because of the injuries, as all
teams have absences during the the season. This is happening to us
now,” said Guardiola.
Atletico’s win was their third in succession against Barca in
the league and capped a fine week that also saw them progress
through to the final of the Copa del Rey.
There has not been many bright spots for the capital club
this season, but coach Quique Sanchez Flores was delighted with the
way his side played, and especially how they nullified the threat
of Barca’s all-star attack.
“I’m very pleased with my players. We were united and we
stopped the Catalan side from developing their usual play. We were
good in attack in the opening 45 minutes, but not so much in the
second half,” said Sanchez Flores, who singled out his side’s
defence for special praise.
“I wasn’t surprised by their performance. That backline has
been playing well in recent matches, but the team hasn’t been
“We’ve not made changes in those positions in order for them
to get to know each other better. I think that’s been fundamental