Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid will hope for a favour from city rivals Real on Saturday if they are to wrap up a UEFA Champions League spot against Levante the following day.
The Liga title has long since slipped from Atletico’s grasp, but a return to Europe’s top table will mark another excellent campaign for the club, and that aim can be achieved this weekend.
First they must hope fourth-placed Valencia come up short against Real Madrid, which would mean a win for Atletico at Levante would give them an unassailable lead in third.
And midfielder Mario Suarez says his team-mates are focused on completing the job versus a Levante side who could confirm their top-flight status with a victory.
“The goal is to finish third and to achieve that we have the finals ahead of us,” the Spain international said.
“There are three matches left in which the club’s objective is at stake, which is third place that gives direct access to next year’s Champions League.
“It’s an objective important enough to not have to think about anything else.”
Simeone has no fresh injury concerns and will have been boosted by the agreement of a new contract for midfielder Saul in the week, while opposite number Lucas Alcaraz will be without suspended pair Victor Casadesus and Simao Mate.
Pape Diop is also doubtful due to a recent ankle sprain as Levante seek a repeat of their 2-0 win versus Atletico at Estadio Ciudad de Valencia last season.
Home comforts have been key to Levante this term – with six of their nine wins coming in Valencia – and another victory is likely to put lingering relegation fears to bed.
“We have to have the confidence to ask questions of Atletico at various points in the game,” Alcaraz said.
“They are a tough team to win against but we must be faithful to the things we do. We need to make as few errors as possible.
“These are games that you have to do everything very well, because you know they [Atletico] are going to give everything.
“Apart from three or four teams who are not playing for anything, everyone else will have to deal with pressure and anxiety.
“We have long been thinking that every game is a chance to make an impact and we now have a chance to earn that win.”
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