Simeone: Atleti lacked Real, City scoring touch

Diego Pablo Simeone, Head Coach of Atletico de Madrid, speaks to the media in the post match press conference following the UEFA Champions League quarter-final first leg match between Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund at Civitas Metropolitano Stadium on April 10, 2024 in Madrid, Spain.

Coach Diego Simeone praised Atletico Madrid's performance in their 2-1 Champions League win over Borussia Dortmund, but lamented his side's inability to take the chances which could have given them a greater advantage in the quarterfinal tie.

Atletico dominated much of the first leg at the Metropolitano on Wednesday, with Rodrigo de Paul putting them ahead in the fourth minute and Samuel Lino making it 2-0 after half an hour.

Both Antoine Griezmann and Lino had opportunities to extend their lead, before Dortmund pulled a late goal back through substitute Sebastian Haller and hit the woodwork twice, to give them hope going into next Tuesday's return leg in Germany.

"Every tie in this round has been very even: [Real Madrid v Manchester] City, [Arsenal v] Bayern, [Paris Saint-Germain v] Barca. And ours too," Simeone told Movistar. "We saw it in the game between Manchester City and Real Madrid above all, they're among the best teams in the last eight. They're amazing, every time they get close to the goal, they score, and that makes the difference.

"We had 60 or 70 very good minutes, and it's normal to have some moments where the opponent can do something. They did that, and they could have got the draw."

Simeone defended out-of-form forward Álvaro Morata, who has only scored one goal since January after an exceptional first half of the season.

"There are things that you can't explain, which are natural," Simeone said in his post-match news conference. "Alvaro had six impressive months from July to January. Now he's in a more difficult moment, he isn't finding the goal, but he's working hard and through that work, the goals will come."

Morata's strike partner Griezmann was treated with an ice pack on his right ankle after the game, but said he expected to be fit for Atletico's LaLiga clash with Girona on Saturday.

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"We won, and that's the important thing," Griezmann told Movistar. "It doesn't matter what happened at the end [of the game], it's a shame we conceded a goal, but it's very important to win in a Champions League quarterfinal.

"I'm being treated now and I'll rest well. We have the best physios in Europe to help me be at my best for Saturday."

If Atletico eliminate Dortmund, they'll face the winners of the tie between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona, which the LaLiga side lead 3-2 after the first leg, in the semifinals, raising the prospect of Griezmann going up against his former club.

"That would mean a lot for LaLiga and Spanish football," Griezmann said, "But the most important thing is us getting to the semis. It won't be easy."

Barcelona coach Xavi Hernandez said Paris Saint-Germain remain favourites to win the teams' Champions League quarterfinal tie, despite his side winning Wednesday's first leg 3-2 in the French capital.

Raphinha scored twice and substitute Andreas Christensen headed the winner the 77th minute at the Parc des Princes to give Barcelona the edge heading back to Spain for the second leg next week.

"PSG are still the favourites," Xavi said in his postgame news conference. "It will be very difficult to win in Barcelona.

"Today we played well because we were united defensively. I'm very proud, everything worked well. We have to improve our concentration in the first minutes of the second half. We managed to mature and recover from a match that became very difficult."

Barcelona, who beat Napoli in the round of 16, are seeking to reach their first Champions League semifinal since 2019 following back-to-back group-stage exits.

"I hope the ghosts have died," Xavi added. "We've gone through difficult years in the Champions League recently. This win shows that Barça are still alive."

PSG looked to have recovered from Raphinha's opener when Ousmane Dembélé equalised in the 48th minute against his former club. Three minutes later midfielder Vitinha put PSG ahead from Fabián Ruiz's pass in a pulsating match where Dembélé also hit the left post moments before Christensen's winner.

"We are not happy with the defeat," PSG manager Luis Enrique, who won the treble with Barcelona in 2015, said. "The second leg will be like a final now, it's our objective. I have no doubt that we can qualify. I congratulate Barcelona for their win and their performance.

"We could have done better and we will have to improve some things for the second leg but I'm still satisfied by what I saw tonight. We controlled well our emotions I thought but the game swung on details. The manager is also responsible for the results. I chose players because I thought they would be best for this game but it didn't work. We changed our plans at half-time and we scored two goals."

Luis Enrique refused to comment on Kylian Mbappé's performance, as the France captain was shackled by Barcelona's defence and had little impact on the game.

However, he said that Barça were not necessarily favourites even with a win in hand and the home field advantage.

"We are going to go to Barcelona to fight a war," he said.

"I never see the opposition as favourites, whoever they are. In top-level competition, that's how I see it. And I will continue to believe that we will go to Barcelona to win the game.

"I repeat. We could have won this game. [Football] is about small details and let's hope that the small details go our way in the second leg."

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