Atletico Madrid travel to Deportivo La Coruna on Saturday knowing that a slip-up could see them lose their grip on third place in La Liga.
Diego Simeone’s side remain in contention for a place in the last four of the UEFA Champions League following Tuesday’s goalless stalemate with rivals Real Madrid in the first leg of their quarter-final.
However, attentions revert to domestic matters this weekend, which for Atleti means cementing their grip on an automatic spot in next season’s Champions League.
Valencia closed to within two points of Atletico with a 3-0 victory over Levante on Monday but, ahead of Sunday’s trip to the Riazor, Antoine Griezmann said his team-mates are prepared for their return to action.
The in-form Frenchman backed Simeone to get the most out of his squad during the season’s run-in.
“He’s a leader. His team talks are impressive. He spurs you on and makes you want to give your all. That’s his strength,” Griezmann told Champions Matchday magazine.
“He tries to motivate you for him and for the team. I learn from him every day.
“It’s about there not being just one or 14 players; it’s an entire squad who live together and give everything in training.”
Saturday’s clash will be the second in charge for Depor coach Victor Sanchez del Amo, after he oversaw a 2-2 draw against Real Sociedad in his first game.
Toche’s late equaliser leaves Depor as one of three clubs on 28 points – above Almeria and Levante in 16th on goal difference.
Despite their precarious position, on-loan winger Lucas Perez maintains the club will not return to the second tier.
“The only one that will not be among the bottom three is Deportivo. I said from day one, we will not go down,” he told reporters this week.
“The intensity and the team’s attitude has always been there. Right now you cannot draw many conclusions from what has been against Real Sociedad, the coach had only two days.
“Give him time. We are very happy with him, you have to be helped to integrate as soon as possible, then we can learn what he wants on the pitch.”
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