End of Messi-Ronaldo duel good for LaLiga – Simeone

Diego Simeone believes LaLiga has become a more interesting and competitive environment now the emphasis has shifted from Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo’s battle for silverware.

Atleti squandered a glorious chance to temporarily go top on Saturday as Filipe Luis’ second-half header was cancelled out by Mario Gaspar’s deflected strike in a 1-1 draw at lowly Villarreal.

Thomas Lemar headed wide with a late opportunity to restore the visitors’ advantage, while they were indebted to Jan Oblak for two key saves with the game in the balance.

The result enabled Barcelona to edge a point clear of surprise challengers Deportivo Alaves but, on a day that saw Real Madrid lose for the third time this term, Simeone was content to soak up the open nature of the competition.

“LaLiga is fantastic at the moment,” the Rojiblancos boss told a news conference.

“It’s chaotic, all the teams are competing and fighting for points. It’s much more competitive than when Ronaldo and Messi defined the championship.

“We are only thinking about ourselves. Today was a tough, intense game against a strong rival. We tried to play hard in the first half to counter [Villarreal’s] need for the win.

“In the second half, we understood that we could try to be more offensive in order to exploit the spaces they left.

“We scored a goal and then they equalised. In the end they could have scored the second and so could have we with Lemar’s chance.”

Atleti are due to visit Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League on Wednesday before returning to domestic duties at home to Real Sociedad next weekend.

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