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La Liga Preview: Atletico Madrid v Malaga

Victory for Atletico Madrid against Malaga on Sunday could see them crowned La Liga champions for the first time since 1996.

If Atleti bounce back from their defeat to Levante and Barcelona fail to beat Elche, Diego Simeone’s men will have brought a conclusion to one of the most enthralling title races Spain has seen for many years.

A Filipe Luis own goal coupled with David Barral’s late effort condemned Atleti to a first La Liga defeat in 11 matches but Simeone’s charges were spared slightly by the fact that Barcelona and Real Madrid both dropped points.

Regardless, Simeone will be hopeful of a better showing against Malaga in their final game of the season at the Vicente Calderon.

Malaga, five points clear of the drop, have work to do to make certain their safety and Atleti will hope to do their bit while praying for a Barca defeat – ahead of their potentially decisive trip to Camp Nou on the final day.

However, defender Juanfran has warned against taking Malaga lightly and says the squad are not thinking of the Barcelona match or its likely importance.

“If we win both of the remaining fixtures we’ll be champions and the first one is against Malaga,” he said. “But it would be an error to think beyond Malaga.

“The team is doing perfectly. If you work, work, work, you’ll be rewarded and we’ve worked as hard as anyone.”

Atleti won the reverse fixture 1-0 in January and have lost just one of their last seven meetings with Malaga.

Sunday’s hosts will be confident of extending that strong run with Bernd Schuster’s charges having won just one of their last four while failing to score in their last two outings.

Malaga’s hopes may be boosted by the potential absence of Diego Costa (thigh), but goalkeeper Willy Caballero has urged his team-mates to simply focus on ending the season well.

The former Elche stopper has “no interest” in the title race and instead wants to secure the win that will keep them safe.

“With regards to my opinion on the league, my only concern is fighting for my club and to ensure our place in the elite next season,” he said.

“Nothing else interests me right now. We need to remain cautious and fight and defend well.

“I have no interest in who wins the league this year.”

Fri 9 May, 2014
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