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Simeone targets second spot

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone says his side are fighting an uphill battle against Real Madrid for second place in La Liga.

The Argentine pointed to the difference in spending power of their city rivals and Barcelona compared to that of his side, with Atletico now trailing Real by one point in the standings having headed them for the majority of the season.

Simeone’s side welcome fifth-placed Valencia on Sunday, and the 42-year-old is tipping a tough task given their opponents are two points outside a Champions League spot.

“I can imagine a full stadium, an important enemy (Valencia) in front of us who are full of quality players on every part of the field and who is so good in dead ball situations,” Simeone said.

“The game will show two teams trying to get a victory. In our case, (we want) to keep our position and in their case (they want) to carry on with their improvement in order to reach the position between the best teams in La Liga.

“I think it is going to be an interesting game.”

Simeone said the challenge of beating city rivals Real on the table was weighted in favour of Jose Mourinho’s men – given the spending capabilities at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“We have to see the reality and we’re talking about a lot of millions of difference,” Simeone said, referring to difference in purse strings between Atletico and Real.

“We have to focus on what we can do. As I said, you watch Barcelona and Real Madrid coming back into ties which looked impossible and we are fighting to try to finish between them.

“We are looking to improve our performances and from now on we will try to give our best in the last 10 weeks taking each game as it comes.”

With Champions League football all but sealed for 2013/14 courtesy of their 13-point buffer to fourth side Real Sociedad, Simeone said he was anticipating finding some highlights in the latter half of the season.

“I think the best part for the last 10 weeks is the excitement to get when you score goals in games that are close and the excitement to finish the season as well as you can,” he said.

“It is going to recognise the effort you team has put in during the last 10 weeks. Obviously all the things we are doing well, they are going to be more important as we get to the end of the season properly.”

Thu 28 March, 2013
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