Pedro Mosquera concedes Deportivo La Coruna are facing an uphill struggle to overcome in-form Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon, but insists his side should not fear anyone.
Depor have endured an abysmal 2016 so far, having been dragged into the fringes of a Liga relegation battle after failing to win a match since December 19.
Saturday’s home match against Malaga looked set to provide some timely relief, but Alejandro Arribas headed into his own net at the death to gift the visitors a point in a 3-3 draw.
The fixture list now pits Víctor Sanchez’s side against second-placed Atletico, who won 3-1 at Valencia on Sunday and have only lost one top-flight home match this season – September’s defeat to Barcelona.
“I think right now Atleti are playing at a very high level and this is going to be an extremely difficult game,” midfielder Mosquera said.
“I saw their game with Valencia and they played very well, not only with the ball but without it, while combining well and helping each other.”
Depor managed to take a point from October’s reverse fixture, but face the added pitfall of having numerous players who are one booking away from suspension.
Mosquera urged his team-mates to stay focused on the task at hand as they seek to deal what could be a fatal blow to Atletico’s title hopes, with Barca able to open an 11-point gap when they kick off earlier on Saturday.
He added: “If we play against Atletico thinking of the following game then it is going to be very hard to get a result. We must go there to compete.
“We are Deportivo and we mustn’t feel inferior to anyone. Even though we are going through a bad streak, I at least have my morale high and we will have to play a great game.
“It’s obvious results have not been what was expected but we have to be calm about it, knowing we have a wide margin from the bottom three, yet we have to start getting points in threes, especially at home.”
Though Atletico’s hopes of domestic glory may be remote, Diego Simeone’s side are still in the Champions League and host PSV on Tuesday in a last-16 tie locked at 0-0 after the first leg.
Young defender Lucas Hernandez expects the 2013-14 Spanish champions to finish the campaign on a high.
“I see the team doing very well,” he told the club’s official website. “We have played a few very good matches, both in the Champions League and the league.
“We are going to keep this up to get as far as possible. We know that there are teams that are at a very high level, but we’ll do our utmost to fight and battle against them.”
Striker Fernando Torres (knee) remains a worry for Simeone, but Augusto Fernandez returns from suspension. The visitors, meanwhile, could be without forward Lucas Perez (thigh).
Key Opta Facts:
– Deportivo La Coruna have gone eight league games against Atletico Madrid without a win, scoring just twice in that period.
– Atletico have won nine games in a row at home against Depor, scoring an average of 2.6 goals per game.
– Atletico have gone eight league games at home without defeat, conceding just four goals.
– Depor have not won any of their last seven away games in La Liga, conceding an average of two goals per game.