"We don't really think about the situation [links to Barcelona] you mentioned". Fast forward to the beginning of March and things have changed a lot.
The win brings Barcelona's tally to 69 points at the top of the table, eight points ahead of the second-placed Atletico with 11 games to go.
Will today be the last time Griezmann plays at the Camp Nou in an opposition shirt? "Barcelona wouldn't normally lose four or five games in what they have left", Simeone said. The French global has scored 15 goals this season. In La Liga this season, the duo has combined for 42 of Barcelona's 68 goals.
Atleti have trimmed Barca's once formidable lead at the summit to five points, thanks to a run of eight wins and a draw over nine top-flight matches in 2018.
Antoine Griezmann, with seven goals in his previous two matches, got his first sight of goal in the 75th minute but his shot was wild, flying miles over the crossbar.
Messi has repeatedly proven himself in the big games, too, scoring 25 goals against Real Madrid and finding the back of the net in Champions League and Copa del Rey finals.
Barcelona remained undefeated after 27 rounds and dealt Atletico just its second defeat in the league this season.
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It was one of those goals. The team have been over-dependent on talisman Lionel Messi for attacking inspiration, and have often looked to rely on their new-found defensive resilience this season to help them secure results.
But after an early stretch when Atletico neutralized host Barcelona's ball possession, Messi broke through with a perfectly stroked free kick that he set up by earning a foul from Thomas Partey.
The combination play between Messi and Jordi Alba has been key to the Catalan club's play going forward and will be crucial against Atletico as well. Suarez has scored 20 goals and provided six assists to go with the Argentine's 23 goals and 12 assists, accounting for two-thirds of the club's goals in the league. Barcelona drew 1-1 in the away leg at Stamford Bridge.
Griezmann is being lined up as a mega-signing by both sides and United failed in a world record bid to snare the Atletico Madrid attacker last summer.
The 24-year-old Ghana worldwide arrived at Wanda Metropolitano in 2011 and signed a contract extension for another five years, which keeps him at the club until 2023.
When his remark was put to Ernesto Valverde, Barcelona's coach said: "Messi is a player like no other in the world".