Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao believes his side and Barcelona are the real contenders for the La Liga crown.
Diego Simeone’s men ended last season in sensational style, winning the Europa League, and have since emerged as title challengers, with the Colombian notching 17 goals in 15 league games.
They sit four points clear of reigning champions Real Madrid, and Falcao said Atletico cannot be overlooked after a near-perfect calendar year.
“With the budgets available to Real Madrid and Barcelona, they can have the best players in the world,” he told Spanish television station Cuatro.
“But it is Barca first, Atletico second and Madrid third. So now we should talk about Barca and Atletico.
“The mark for the year is maybe a nine – there was just a little bit missing, so a nine-and-a-half, maybe.”
Meanwhile, Simeone said a change in attitude has transformed the club’s fortunes since his arrival 12 months ago.
“I feel a huge joy because when we arrived here the situation was not easy. The players have made a huge effort to be competitive,” he said.
“Above all, I feel very happy for having been at the club I love for a year.”