Diego Simeone has challenged Atletico Madrid to make the impossible possible once again when they travel to Barcelona in Sunday’s LaLiga title showdown.
Atleti have trimmed Barca’s once formidable lead at the summit to five points, thanks to a run of eight wins and a draw over nine top-flight matches in 2018.
Such exploits have evoked memories of their 2013-14 title triumph, when Diego Godin’s goal secured a 1-1 final-day draw at Camp Nou to pip Barca to glory.
“It’s impossible to win LaLiga if you look at the statistics,” Simeone told a pre-match news conference.
“In the past 14 years, La Liga was for Real Madrid or Barcelona and only Villarreal made it one season to be second.
“So you can say it’s impossible and we made the impossible possible because we won it one year. So [this time] it will be very difficult.
“Our plans is the same as always, get to the last five games and still have a chance to win it. If we do that we can make it.”
Atletico’s miserly defence has laid the foundation for their title charge, conceding a mere 11 goals in 26 LaLiga games, but the form of reported Barcelona target Antoine Griezmann has breathed fire into their ambitions.
The France star followed up a hat-trick in the 5-2 win at Sevilla last weekend by scoring every goal in the 4-0 win over Leganes on Wednesday, his alliance with Diego Costa since the latter’s return from Chelsea proving particularly potent.
80% – Atletico Madrid have won 80% of their games with Diego Costa this season in all competitions (8/10), compared to 53.3% without him (16/30). Bestial. pic.twitter.com/lFRe66bA9z
— OptaJose (@OptaJose) March 2, 2018
“He gave us everything we were expecting from him, that’s why we were very insisting to get him back with us, he gave us ambition, joy, hard work, passion and obviously an offensive power that gives us more chances to score,” Simeone said of Costa.
“I think Griezmann is in a great moment and the team is helping him to have the great present he’s having. We don’t really think about the situation [links to Barcelona] you mentioned.”
Such simplified and uncluttered thinking has long been a key strength for Atleti under Simeone and he sees no reason to divert from the script in Catalonia.
“We will play as if we were going to play at Villarreal, Sevilla, Leganes or any other team’s stadium,” he added.
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