Atletico Madrid captain Koke hit back at Pep Guardiola’s assessment of his team’s defensive tactics after the coach said they played a “5-5” formation in Manchester City‘s 1-0 Champions League quarterfinal first leg win on Tuesday.
Kevin De Bruyne scored the only goal of a tight game in the 70th minute at the Etihad Stadium — with Phil Foden coming off the bench to provide the assist — to give City a narrow advantage ahead of the second leg in Madrid on April 13.
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Guardiola initially praised the effectiveness of Atletico’s approach, describing Diego Simeone’s team as “masters at defending together and sitting deep.”
“They played a 5-5, two lines of five. In prehistory, now, and in 100,000 years’ time, attacking a 5-5 is very difficult,” Guardiola went on, speaking to Movistar. “There’s no space. They’re very competitive, they defend well. It’s hard, you have to have patience.”
Guardiola’s “prehistory” comment has been interpreted by some in Madrid as a criticism meant to describe Atletico’s approach as antiquated.
“In love with your history since PREHISTORY,” Koke responded in an Instagram story posted on Tuesday night, with an image of the Atletico Madrid badge. “Proud to be Atleti.”
Atletico didn’t register a single shot on goal during the match, and while City dominated 70% of the possession, they only managed two shots on target themselves.
“In their last 20 games here, they’ve scored 60 goals,” Simeone told Movistar. “We tried to keep it tight and use the counter-attack. They didn’t get a shot on target in the first half, but we couldn’t hurt them either. It was a very tactical game.”
“We defended quite well all game, except for the goal,” Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak said. “City play like that, they have a lot of possession against everyone, not just us. If you go crazy, they’ll punish you. Luckily we kept a cool head and closed off the spaces… We lost but the tie isn’t over.”