Atletico Madrid can steal a march on Real Madrid and Barcelona in their La Liga title bid when strugglers Elche visit on Friday.
Diego Simeone’s charges boast an 11-game unbeaten run that has seen them move three points clear at the Spanish top flight’s summit.
They also moved into the UEFA Champions League semi-final at Barca’s expense, with the holders not in action until Sunday and Real playing on Tuesday.
It gives Atletico an opportunity to extend their lead to six points in the first of five remaining, which Simeone has described as “finals”, stating recently: “There are five finals to go, and we’ll play them as such”.
While Elche are unlikely to spring a surprise, having won just twice away from home in the league all season, forward Adrian Lopez is not taking anything for granted against Fran Escriba’s men, and echoed his coach’s rhetoric.
“We have to carry on like this, knowing that all the matches left are all finals. We’ll play as if it were a final and try to end the season well,” he said.
“The match against Elche is not going to be easy. We know they have a lot at stake and it’s going to be very complicated.
“Every match is complicated because all the teams have something at stake. Whether it is to get into Europe, or to avoid relegation. Every rival, every match is very difficult.”
Atletico, who are expected to have leading goalscorer Diego Costa available for selection despite suffering a gashed knee during Sunday’s win over Getafe, have won their last seven league games and will be heavy favourites to bolster their title ambitions against an Elche side who will have one eye on the relegation battle beneath them.
Four points clear of Getafe in 18th, Elche are well-placed to avoid an immediate return to the second tier.
While Escriba is taking nothing for granted when it comes to keeping the club in La Liga, he was buoyed by their performance in Sunday’s 2-1 defeat to Valencia.
“We have five games to go but if we keep on this path we will be close to our target,” he said.
“In this league we can only think about the next game. Nobody knows how many points will be needed for safety.”
- Soccer News Like
- Be the first of your friends!