Bayern Munich coach Pep Guardiola feels Atletico Madrid are on par with Barcelona and Real Madrid after the Bundesliga champions were paired with Diego Simeone’s men during Friday’s Champions League semi-final draw.
Guardiola’s men avoided Madrid and Manchester City in the last four, but the Spanish coach feels Atletico have shown in recent years that they are up there with the continent’s very best.
“Spanish teams have always been on top of their game in European games over the past few years,” Guardiola said at a news conference.
“I have been keeping a close eye on the Spanish league in recent years, so I know how good Atletico Madrid are.
“People are always talking about Real Madrid and Barcelona, but Atletico have been up there as well in the past five years. They are on par with Madrid and Barcelona.
“Barcelona have been the best team around over the past 10 years or so and Atletico managed to eliminate them twice in the last three seasons. That is further proof that this is a very tough draw. I hope my players will remain healthy in the build-up to the two games against Atletico.”
Atletico have impressed defensively this campaign, but Guardiola has stressed Bayern are a force to be reckoned with in defence as well.
“Atletico have a strong defence, but Bayern have not conceded many goals either,” he added.
“There’s no denying they are a strong opponent, though, just like Juventus were.
“They press their opponents, defend deep and are very compact. Diego Godin is always there to intercept crosses from the wings and Jan Oblak is a great goalkeeper. They have a very good organisation.
“Juventus were one of the strongest teams in the world in defence and so were Benfica. Now we meet another team that is very strong at the back.”
Diego Simeone has been key to Atletico’s revival in recent years and Guardiola has nothing but praise for his opposite number.
“Simeone has been at the club for five years and is a great coach. The team has the same attitude and philosophy as him. They play the way he wants them to play,” the Bayern coach stated.
“They lost players like Radamel Falcao and Diego Costa, but they stayed true to their own style. They nearly always win when they put in a good performance, but they are still very solid when they have a bad day.
“Simeone is one of the best coaches in the world.”
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