efe-epaMadrid

Atletico Madrid Argentine head coach Diego Simeone said Friday he was to blame for the early exit from the UEFA Champions League round of 16 at the hands of Juventus.

Atletico squandered a 2-0 first leg advantage as the Spanish side conceded a hat-trick by Portugal star Cristiano Ronaldo in the second leg played at the Italian team's home pitch Allianz Stadium.

"I have absolutely nothing to say to the fans. Simply to show gratitude to them (for their support) since I have arrived as a player until today," Simeone said during a press conference ahead of a La Liga away game against Athletic Bilbao.

Accepting the fact that the criticism he has received since the Juventus defeat is well-founded, the coach said: "If the fans want to hold someone (accountable) it is me."

This defeat was so bad that pundits, coaches, owners and fans have openly criticized the team's playing style and playmakers.

However, no one yet is calling for the head of Simeone as his defenders - of which there are still many - credit him with being the architect of the club's last seven glorious years during which the team has hoisted seven trophies, including the 2013-2014 La Liga and 2017-2018 Europa League titles.

"From my position, criticism has to be accepted. I have no problem with any kind of opinion. I am very respectful with all the criticism because a big part of it can be right," Simeone said.

Following the Spanish sports newspaper AS report on an alleged altercation between Atletico's physical therapist Oscar Ortega and the capital team's defender, Stefan Savic, after the La Liga 1-0 win over Leganes on Saturday, Simeone praised Ortega as being a talented PT, saying: "you have to see how the first chat started (between Ortega and Savic) and then how it ended."

During his playing career, Simeone had two spells at the Spanish team, between 1994 and 1997 and then he came back to Atletico in 2003 until 2006.

In the first tenure as player, Simeone helped the capital side win a La Liga title and hoist the Copa del Rey trophy, both in the 1995-1996 season.