Diego Simeone says the contrast in budgets between Atletico Madrid and big-spending city rivals Real has no bearing in a one-off derby as the two get set to meet at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday.
Real are among the richest clubs in the world and their spending power has enticed the likes of Gareth Bale, James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos to the Spanish capital in recent times.
Conversely, Atletico are forced to take a more conservative approach in the transfer market and Simeone has earned credit for constantly reinventing his side and making them genuine title contenders – even beating Real and Barcelona to Liga glory in 2013-14.
And Simeone says the outlay of the two teams counts for little when battle commences on the pitch, telling a pre-match news conference: “Over the course of the league season, the teams with the bigger budgets tend to finish higher up the table.
“There are genuine financial differences at play, but in a one-off game, anything can happen.”
The Argentine coach had just two days to train with his side due to playing their Champions League last-16 first-leg tie at PSV on Wednesday and Simeone says he has done all he can to get the team ready for Real.
“We’ll look for ways to be in the best possible shape,” he added. “We prepare as best we can, considering the time we have at our disposal.”
Atletico have failed to score in their past two matches, with winger Yannick Carrasco’s absence with an ankle injury diminishing their creativity.
Simeone, though, urged his players to keep working hard to rediscover their form in front of goal.
“All we can do to get back on the scoresheet is persevere. Strikers are streaky creatures. Here’s hoping we hit the target soon,” he said.
“He [Carrasco] was giving us penetration and going past players, which stretches play and helps us to get more bodies into the area. We don’t have anyone else like him.”