Koke backs 'winner' Griezmann after outburst

Antoine Griezmann's warning of Atletico Madrid being dragged into a relegation fight comes from his winning mentality, says midfielder Koke.

Koke has defended Antoine Griezmann over his team-mate's public criticism of Atletico Madrid's poor start to the season.

Atletico – once again tipped to be the closest challengers to LaLiga heavyweights Barcelona and Real Madrid – are already four points off the pace following opening draws against newly promoted duo Alaves and Leganes.

France forward Griezmann said Diego Simeone's side would find themselves in an improbable relegation battle if things did not improve, although Atletico midfielder Saul Niguez was not taken with his candour.

Saul said Griezmann should "think about what he says", but Koke believes the outburst has its roots in a winning mentality that should be encouraged.

"I think all is well, he is a winner and that's good for the team," the Spain international told El Partidazo de Cope.

"He told me he was sorry if he had bothered me, but does not need forgiveness.

"Conversely, Saul wants to win also and did not do anything bad."

Some critics have questioned the suitability of Atletico's style, based on pillars of organisation and intensive hard work, for breaking down sides of limited ambition, but Koke does not believe this is the time for a change of approach.

"We want to change the situation, but we do not have to change the way we play," he added.

"There have been different games where we've played a lot worse and won.

"El Cholo [Simeone] is always looking forward to continue working and keep improving."