Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has his say on rift between Lionel Messi and Barcelona staff

Richard Parry
Evening Standard

Tonight’s clash between Barcelona and Atletico Madrid at Camp Nou could go a long way to deciding the outcome of the LaLiga championship, with the spotlight currently on the hosts for all the wrong reasons.

Barcelona can still win the title – they lie second in the table, two points behind Real Madrid with six to play – but talk of friction between the players and coaching staff, and speculation surrounding Quique Setien’s future as manager.

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Rumours of a poor relationship between star forward Lionel Messi and assistant coach Eder Sarabia resurfaced at the weekend with the Argentine striker appearing to ignore instructions from Setien’s No2.

And the problems don’t end there for Setien, who faces the real possibility of being sacked this summer despite receiving reassurances from Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu during a personal visit to his house .

It’s the one of the worse types of atmosphere you could have ahead of match with Diego Simeone’s Atletico.

"You know me, I don't give my opinion on what's going on in other dressing rooms," Simeone told a news conference on Monday.

"I just make an opinion on ours. We need to keep it protected, always take care of it and always manage the feeling of the players, which is the most important for a squad.

"The most important thing is to manage, in my team, the emotional part, which I consider to be the key part."

Asked specifically about the situation involving his compatriot Messi, Simeone said that such problems must be resolved in private.

"I wouldn't tell you, and I would try to solve it naturally in our camp, which is the dressing room or the training session.

"A cup of coffee could also be there in any informal chat that could help for solving any internal issue."

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