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Simeone: Atletico relishing title bid

Diego Simeone is confident Atletico Madrid can rise to the challenge of winning an enthralling race for the La Liga title.

Simeone’s charges were beaten for the first time in 11 matches on Sunday, when Levante won 2-0 to strike a blow to the Madrid side’s quest to be crowned Spanish champions for the first time since 1996.

Despite that loss, Atletico’s destiny remains very much in their own hands going into the final two games, although Real Madrid and Barcelona are still in with a shout of winning the title.

Simeone believes his squad are enjoying the excitement that has come with this season’s title race, stating that they see winning the title as a responsibility rather than a pressure.

“We’re in for three weeks of excitement. We have to take it in our stride and keep working well. It’s less an adrenaline rush and more a feeling of vertigo,” Marca quote the former Argentina midfielder as saying.

“I experienced it a lot during my playing career and it’s a feeling we like and are enjoying. You should always believe and we do.

“What we’re doing is a responsibility. We don’t see these weeks in terms of pressure: we’re taking them as a challenge that we have to rise to.”

Simeone also called for caution after the defeat to Levante, which came on a weekend where none of the top three picked up maximum points.

The former Inter and Lazio man, who has also guided his side to a UEFA Champions League final against city rivals Real, is relishing being in such a strong position so late in the season.

“We’re in an ideal situation and we’d have all taken it if we’d been offered it at the beginning of the season,” he added.

“The facts speak for themselves: we lost to Levante but it’s still in our hands. We have to be strong.”

Atleti are three points clear of Barcelona, with Carlo Ancelotti’s Real side are two points further back with a game in hand – at Real Valladolid on Wednesday.

Tue 6 May, 2014
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