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Simeone happy to keep Atleti distance from Villarreal

Diego Simeone refused to view Atletico Madrid’s goalless La Liga draw against Villarreal in a negative light.

Like city rivals Real Madrid earlier on Sunday at Malaga, Atleti were forced to settle for a share of the spoils and are now eight points behind defending champions Barcelona at the summit with 13 games remaining.

However, speaking at a post-match news conference, Simeone was reluctant to discuss the title prospects of his 2013-14 champions – preferring to focus on maintaining a six-point advantage over their miserly opponents Villarreal, who lie fourth.

The top-three teams in La Liga earn automatic Champions League qualification, while the side in fourth must undergo a preliminary round in Europe’s premier club competition.

“If we focus on our objectives, we are on track and it will be very difficult until the end of the season,” said Simeone, who will lead Atleti back into Champions League action against PSV on Wednesday before next weekend’s Madrid derby.

“Obviously we would have liked to win but the result keeps Villarreal six points behind us. Based on the squad’s objectives we set at the start of the season, we are well set to achieve them.

“Except for Barcelona, who are different to all the rest, it is difficult for all of us. There is Real Madrid, Sevilla, Athletic [Bilbao]. We all have our needs and it becomes more difficult to achieve your objectives.

“It is clear that we went for the three points but Villarreal have one of the best defences in La Liga and counter-attack well.”

Villarreal striker Cedric Bakambu missed a glorious chance after the hour on one of the breakaway moments Simeone identified as a danger.

“In the second half they had their counter-attacks, they came here to try and win the game,” he added.

“We kept the gap with them and that is something positive.”

Mon 22 Feb, 2016
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