Barca's Koeman defends Messi, denies Griezmann issues

VIDEO SHOWS: FC BARCELONA TRAINING SESSION / NEWS CONFERENCE WITH BARCELONA COACH RONALD KOEMAN TALKING ABOUT LIONEL MESSI SITUATION IN THE CLUB, ABOUT MATCH AGAINST ATLETICO MADRID / ATLETICO MDARID TRAINING SESSION AND COMMENTS FROM COACH DIEGO SIMEONE AT NEWS CONFERENCE

RESENDING WITH COMPLETE SCRIPT

SHOWS: BARCELONA, SPAIN (NOVEMBER 20, 2020) (BARCA TV HANDOUT - MUST NOT OBSCURE LOGO)

1. FC BARCELONA TRAINING SESSION IN PROGRESS

2. FORWARD LIONEL MESSI AT TRAINING SESSION

3. VARIOUS OF TRAINING SESSION IN PROGRESS

4. FC BARCELONA COACH RONALD KOEMAN AT TRAINING SESSION

5. FORWARD ANTOINE GRIEZMANN AT TRAINING SESSION

6. (SOUNDBITE) (English) FC BARCELONA COACH, RONALD KOEMAN, SAYING:

"First of all, I need to defend Leo, because if something happened to me after a 15 hours journey back to Barcelona and you have to wait one hour and when you go outside there is a lot of press asking those type of questions, I would be dangerous and hate them as well. I hope he will stay in Barcelona; it's unbelievable what he did for this club. But he is the main person to know and make the decision about his future."

7. VARIOUS OF TRAINING SESSION IN PROGRESS

8. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FC BARCELONA COACH, RONALD KOEMAN, SAYING:

"I know you might be looking for a problem, but in the changing rooms I've never seen any notion of a bad relationship between those two."

9. GRIEZMANN AND MESSI AT TRAINING SESSION

10. TRAINING SESSION IN PROGRESS

11. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FC BARCELONA COACH, RONALD KOEMAN, SAYING:

"It is important that Pep continues to coach, he is an important reference for all coaches, I am happy for him because he is very happy at Manchester City, and he wants to follow the team he wants, it is a good news, I congratulated him yesterday, if he is happy, I am happy."

12. GERARDO PIQUE AT TRAINING SESSION 13. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FC BARCELONA COACH, RONALD KOEMAN, SAYING:

"It is a difficult game, but we are confident, we can talk about their low points, but we have also had some very low points, I think both teams can make it, and hopefully it will be a good game."

14. MESSI AT TRAINING SESSION

15. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) FC BARCELONA COACH, RONALD KOEMAN, SAYING:

"Above all for the big sides it's a really hectic schedule, it's not good to have three international matches instead of two. I was an international coach and I never took risks with a player: I'd always think about the club, too."

16. MESSI AT TRAINING

17. VARIOUS OF BARCELONA GOALKEEPER MARC-ANDRÉ TER STEGEN TRAINING

18. TRAINING SESSION IN PROGRESS

BARCELONA, SPAIN (NOVEMBER 20, 2020) (ATLETICO MADRID HANDOUT - ACCESS ALL)

19. VARIOUS OF ATLETICO MADRID TRAINING SESSION

20. ATLETICO MADRID COACH DIEGO SIEMONE AT TRAINING SESSION

21. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ATLETICO MADRID COACH, DIEGO SIMEONE, SAYING:

"We are part of society, so of course there is the possibility that one of our players get it (COVID), so we will have to bring in another player for the next game, and hopefully both Luis and Lucas recover as soon as possible."

22. VARIOUS OF ATLETICO MADRID TRAINING SESSION

23. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ATLETICO MADRID COACH, DIEGO SIMEONE, SAYING:

"I have a lot of care for Antoinne, so it would not be right for me to have an opinion on what is happening to a team like Barcelona. I think that this is a question for the Barcelona coach, and he will answer how he thinks best."

24. TRAINING SESSION IN PROGRESS

25. (SOUNDBITE) (Spanish) ATLETICO MADRID COACH, DIEGO SIMEONE, SAYING:

"We will try and play the game in a way that we can beat them, we are facing a rival with a hierarchy and a new team with young and experienced players, as always a game against Barcelona is complex."

26. VARIOUS OF TRAINING SESSION IN PROGRESS

STORY: Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman has played down notions of a rift between club great Lionel Messi and fellow forward Antoine Griezmann.

Earlier this month Griezmann's former agent, Eric Olhats, told France Football that the Argentine had a problem with his ex-client, leading Messi to snap at journalists upon his return from international duty.

When asked about the subject ahead of Saturday's visit to Atletico Madrid, Koeman said the duo get along.

"I can understand why Leo (Messi) snapped. After such a long journey you're asked about Antoine (Griezmann). It smacks of a lack of respect," he told a news conference on Friday.

"I know you might be looking for a problem, but in the changing rooms I've never seen any notion of a bad relationship between those two."

Koeman said that Messi - whose contract expires next summer and who has once again been linked with a move to Manchester City after their coach Pep Guardiola signed a new contract - will be the one who decides his future.

"I hope he will stay in Barcelona; it's unbelievable what he did for this club. But he is the main person to know and make the decision about his future," he said.

Koeman will be without Ansu Fati, Samuel Umtiti, Sergio Busquets and Ronald Araujo for the trip to Atletico, who sit six points above the Catalans.

"It's an important game, both for our mindset and also the points that are available," Koeman said.

"We're on the right track. Atletico are a side who know how to play in different ways, depending on who the opponent is, just like Barca do."

The Dutchman also criticized the avalanche of games his side are facing, with the visit to Atletico the first of 10 matches in 32 days, on the back of an international break when countries played three times.

"Above all for the big sides it's a really hectic schedule," he said. "It's not good to have three international matches instead of two. I was an international coach and I never took risks with a player: I'd always think about the club, too."

Atletico Madrid's philosophical coach Diego Simeone refused to be drawn on the debate surrounding the recent international break, despite the Liga club's Uruguay forward Luis Suarez testing positive for COVID-19 while away.

Suarez, 33, will miss a reunion with his ex-club Barcelona on Saturday after returning a positive test on international duty. His compatriot Lucas Torreira will also be absent for the Catalan outfit's visit following a positive test of his own.

(Production: Michael Gore and Miguel Gutierrez)