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Simeone: Atletico still not La Liga title favourites

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone was not getting carried away with his side’s newfound La Liga lead on Wednesday.

Simeone’s side enjoyed a 1-0 win over Granada at home, while their city rivals Real Madrid fell to a 2-1 loss to Sevilla – with those results sending Atletico top, one point clear of Barcelona.

The 43-year-old tactician said he wants Atletico to preserve their standing in the title race for some time yet, before he switches his thinking towards silverware.

“Every game is long, hard and difficult. The lads have made an incredible and marvellous effort,” Simeone said after their win at the Estadio Vicente Calderon.

“It’s a great season but it will be assessed by how we finish it.

“With eight games to go, the advantage is with those who have more resources.

“If we can reach the last four or five games where we are, then that will encourage us even more.”

Simeone’s said it was credit to Atletico’s recruiting ability that they stood top of the Spanish top flight through 30 games, and were on the brink of breaking Real and Barca’s duopoly of the division.

“I appreciate the efforts of the club. We’ve worked well to maintain a solid base.

“(We have) a group of players who have wanted to improve and grow, knowing their flaws and strengthening their virtues.

“This teaches us that by believing in what you’re doing, working little by little and with humility, we can compete.”

On their narrow win over mid-table Granada, Simeone said Atletico were deserving winners, and should have built their lead prior to Diego Costa’s 63rd-minute strike.

“I think that in the first half, there were a couple of situations that could have made the game more comfortable for us but then we weren’t very precise with our combinations,” Simeone said.

“The team didn’t suffer so much, because our opponents set themselves out to counter-attack, so our defence worked well in that respect.”

“In the second half, bringing on (Jose) Sosa and (Brazilian midfielder) Diego gave us more speed in the connections between midfield and attack.

“I think that beyond the game being 1-0, the team did enough to deserve winning the game.”

Thu 27 March, 2014
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