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Atletico Madrid v Real Sociedad: Simeone won´t look beyond top three

SoccerNews in La Liga 28 Feb 2016

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Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone insisted a top-three finish in La Liga remains the club’s aim ahead of the visit of Real Sociedad to the Vicente Calderon on Tuesday.

Atleti effectively ended Real Madrid’s title hopes when they won 1-0 at Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, but the Argentine coach played down talk of pushing Barcelona for the title.

Antoine Griezmann’s 53rd-minute goal gave the 2013-14 champions a valuable Madrid derby victory over Zinedine Zidane’s side and moved Simeone’s men four points clear of their city rivals in second place. 

Barcelona responded to that impressive result with a 2-1 win over Sevilla on Sunday to maintain their eight-point gap at the top. 

Rather than trying to catch the holders, Simeone is focusing on keeping Madrid at bay and staying in the automatic Champions League qualification places.

“It is difficult to see Barcelona losing that many games,” he said. “Our objective since the start of the season has been to finish in the top three.

“We always try and be as far up the table as possible. But we are relaxed about it.”

Sociedad arrive in the capital in good form, having won four of their last five La Liga matches, but Atleti are favourites to claim another victory against a team they beat 2-0 at Anoeta Stadium in the reverse fixture in October.

The Basque club were well beaten on their previous two visits to the Calderon, going down 2-0 last April and 4-0 in February 2014.

Atleti can extend their unbeaten run to five league games, and keep the pressure on Luis Enrique’s league leaders.

Despite scoring only twice in their last three La Liga outings, Atleti have picked up 1-0 wins over Getafe and Real Madrid, either side of a 0-0 draw with Villarreal.

“This is a good moment to see that work, stability, collective effort, the team over individuals, pays off,” Simeone said.

“We have a very defined identity.

“Though we lacked goals in recent games, the team always had the same intention.”

For Atleti, Yannick Ferreira Carrasco (ankle), Stefan Savic (thigh) and Thomas Partey (hamstring) all missed the derby, although the Ghanaian is expected to return to selection contention soon.  

Sociedad will get Jonathas, Asier Illarramendi and Aritz Elustondo back from suspension, but Carlos Martinez (hamstring), Raul Navas (groin) and Sergio Canales (ACL) remain sidelined. 

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