Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has played down the prospect of his club mounting a late La Liga title charge as they cannot compete with a Barcelona
Barcelona came close to losing for the first time in the league this season at the weekend, finding themselves two goals down with two minutes of normal time to play against Sevilla.
A half-fit Messi was brought off the bench and helped his side to a dramatic 2-2 draw at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, however, bagging the leveller himself with a trademark long-range finish into the bottom corner.
Simeone’s men are now back to within nine points of Barca after beating Deportivo La Coruna 1-0 on Sunday, but the Argentine does not expect to close the gap fully due to his compatriot’s form.
“We’re having a very important league campaign. We’ve already seen what happened at Sevilla,” he told reporters at his post-match presser.
“Without Messi, Sevilla would have won 2-0. With Messi on the pitch, Barca won 2-0, although the final score was 2-2. Messi is the decisive factor. We want to keep improving our numbers from last season.”