Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone said it was a tough decision for him to include Diego Costa and Koke from the start against Juventus as he explained his crotch-grabbing gesture during his team’s 2-0 win in Wednesday’s Champions League round-of-16 first leg.
It was Costa’s first start since he fractured the fifth metatarsal on his left foot on Dec. 2 and Koke’s first appearance following his recovery from a muscular injury sustained on Jan. 19.
After Jose Gimenez ‘s opener in the 78th minute, Simeone celebrated by turning to the Wanda Metropolitano crowd and putting his hands to his genitals — a gesture he had done as a player.
“It means we have balls, a lot of balls,” he said unapologetically. “To put in Costa and Koke after so long out, you must have balls and I have them. I wanted to show our fans what I was feeling. I did it [when I was a player] in a Lazio vs. Bologna game.”
Simeone praised both Costa and Alvaro Morata for their contribution to the victory.
“Costa was not ready for 90 minutes,” he said. “I spoke Wednesday morning with Costa and Morata, what I needed from each in the game.
“And they came through, both of them. Morata even after VAR did not favour him again.”
Morata, who replaced Costa on 58 minutes, appeared to have headed Atletico in front against his old team but a VAR call disallowed the goal. However, Atletico still took a lead to Turin thanks to goals at set-pieces from centre-backs Gimenez and Diego Godin.
There was a low point for Atletico, however, with bookings for Costa and Thomas Partey, who will both now miss the second leg in Turin on March 12.
Atletico have never lost a knockout tie in eight years under Simeone after winning the first leg but the Argentine had a warning in his postmatch news conference.
“The tie is not over yet, there is still a game to play,” Simeone said. “For sure we will have to suffer against a great opponent, with great players.
“We played a very strong game as a team. As the minutes passed we felt stronger, were making chances, and took two to get the victory against a very strong opponent. “For sure we will have to suffer in Turin.”
Juventus manager Massimiliano Allegri criticised his side for switching off in the closing stages and for not showing patience.
“Atleti came out much more aggressively with set-pieces and caught us by surprise,” he said. “We knew it would be tough — that Atletico force you to play badly, to play slowly, they have been playing this way for eight years.
“If anyone came here wanting to enjoy themselves they picked the wrong night. There will be great disappointment after this result but we can turn the tie around.
“It will not be easy, we will need a great performance but it can be done and we must believe in ourselves.”