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ESPN FC  By ESPN staff

Barcelona star Lionel Messi protected by La Liga - Atletico's Filipe Luis

Diego Simeone believes his Atletico Madrid side need to continue to play well and not worry about Barcelona slipping up in the title race.

Atletico Madrid left-back Filipe Luis has said that both La Liga and the Spanish media "protect" Barcelona star Lionel Messi. 

The Brazil international was shown a straight red card for his tackle on Messi during the 2-1 defeat to Barcelona last month. The tackle caught Messi on the knee and occurred just before half-time.

The 30-year-old was handed an initial three-match ban that was reduced to one match after appeal.

The 30-year-old  told Brazilian TV station Esporte Interativo: "It was a red card, it was not a mistake by the referee, it was a red card. I went out on the field and that was it, a one-match suspension and I served it.

"I was not late, I went after the ball. Now that type of play happens during every match, but because it was with Messi and because here he is the darling of the media and La Liga, obviously no one wants to see one of the best players of all time taken out. No one wants to miss a chance to see him play and that is why all of this happened."

Filipe Luis insisted that the league gives preferential treatment to Barcelona star Lionel Messi.

The initial report from the competition committee said Filipe Luis had been given a three-game ban because of the "special seriousness of the action." He missed Atletico's match against Eibar, which his teammates won 3-1.

La Liga president Javier Tebas on Monday spoke out in defense of the league on Monday.

"For us, all the players are protected in La Liga," he told AS.com. "We don't differentiate between Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo or a player from Rayo Vallecano. We are creating a global league and the big and small clubs all matter to us."

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