Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has taken a thinly-veiled swipe at La Liga because of the financial disparity between Barcelona and his team following a 0-0 draw with the Catalan giants.
The Argentine has transformed his side's fortunes since taking over at the club just over two years ago, leading Los Rojiblancos to the Copa del Rey title last season.
And the upward trajectory of the club has continued in this campaign as it is level on points with Barcelona at the top of La Liga, but Simeone underlined the severe financial imbalance between Atleti and Gerardo Martino's men.
"We have great respect for Barcelona, there is a small difference of 400 million euros and we have given our struggle and fight and that's good," he was quoted as saying by AS.
"With the work of this group of players who give their lives in every game, we have the chance for excitement from match to match."
Diego Costa and Arda Turan came closest for the hosts but they were unable to find that elusive opener. Simeone still saw the positives of a tactical battle.
"I agree it was a chess match. There are games that finish 0-0 that are tactically fulfilling, especially for us professionals," he continued.
"The fans want to see goals... We try to play a smart game. Barca have scored many goals in recent games and, if you give them a chance you will get hurt. We had our chances but I'm happy with the team's work."
The result ensured Atletico reached the 50-point mark at the halfway point of the season and Simeone believes his team thoroughly deserves to be at the top.
He added: "They are many, they have earned, worked, have run, have done all that was needed to achieve this and I congratulate them. On Tuesday there will be another important game to follow in the cup."
- Sports & Recreation
- La Liga
- Gerardo Martino