Simeone congratulates Barcelona, hails Messi's 'piece of genius' goal

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone congratulated Barcelona as deserving La Liga champions, after the blaugrana outfit clinched the title with a 1-0 win at the Estadio Vicente Calderon on Sunday.

Exactly a year after Atletico had won the title at Barca's Camp Nou, the roles were reversed as Lionel Messi's expertly taken goal was enough for Barca to get the three points needed to see off the challenge of second-placed Real Madrid.

At his postmatch news conference the Colchoneros coach hailed Barca's superb second half of the season, which could yet end with a historic treble given they still have the Copa del Rey and Champions League finals to play.

"First of all to congratulate Barca, they deserved to be champions, above all for their superb second half of season," Simeone said. "This is absolutely deserved.

"We can just congratulate them, they reacted very well from December. They have excellent players who can decide a game in any moment.

"They now have two chances to achieve the treble -- which is something now in their own hands."

Simeone said that an even game had been decided by a piece of genius from his fellow countryman Messi.

"In the moment when game was most under control, a piece of genius from Lionel appeared," he said.

"Although it was also a defensive slip from us, but it was a great goal which made them more comfortable in the game. They then did not need to attack. But I am happy with our team, which were very competitive, and very close to the game we wanted, with some chances to score ourselves too.

"Above all the image that we were competing, and just beaten by piece of genius from Messi."

Last year's champions are set to finish the season without a major trophy for the first time in Simeone's term in charge, however Simeone said he was still happy as Atletico remained in third place in the table ahead of their peers Valencia and Sevilla with just one game left to play.

"First of all, for us, the Spanish Supercopa is not a small trophy, we'd only won it once in our history," he said.

"Our championship is against Valencia and Sevilla, and we are three points ahead with one game left to play. The final game will be nice, with adrenalin everywhere, and drama in all the stadiums.

"We would have taken this position at the start of the season, for sure."

Asked what Atletico had to do to battle against Barca and Madrid to try and regain the title next year, Simeone reminded everyone that his team's achievement last season had been exceptional, and should not be expected to be repeated each year.

"In 50 years we won two La Liga trophies," he said. "We must work hard to be close to the best, each year. We were third three years ago, first last year, and are fighting for third this year. Being champion is so hard, but we try using our own weapons.

"We must be aware of the reality -- which is that Sevilla and Valencia are our real direct rivals, fighting for two places. And finishing ahead of them will be a fantastic season. Whoever misses out it will be a pity, as they will not deserve that."