Martino, Simeone prepare to renew old rivalry
Barcelona coach Gerardo Martino and his Atletico Madrid counterpart Diego Simeone clashed as rival players in their native Argentina and there will be no quarter given when they meet in the last eight of the Champions League today.
A callow Simeone was not yet 18 when he faced Martino, nearly 10 years his senior, in a league match between Velez Sarsfield and Newell’s Old Boys in January 1988, when Martino was sent off for a challenge on fellow midfielder Simeone, who was himself dismissed 10 minutes later.
No stranger to controversy during his playing career -- Simeone was involved in the sending off of England midfielder David Beckham at the 1998 World Cup -- he admitted last year he had indulged in a spot of play-acting to try to provoke a red card for Martino.
“There was an incident in the middle of the pitch,” Simeone recalled in an interview with Argentine television.
“He reacted to something, I exaggerated a bit and they ended up sending him off,” added the 43-year-old, said to play “with a knife between his teeth”.
“They sent me off about 10 minutes later, the referee compensated a little for his earlier decision.”
Almost three decades later and the older and wiser Martino and Simeone are in charge of two Spanish teams with a genuine chance of achieving a rare double of Champions League and La Liga titles.