Diego Simeone insists Atletico Madrid have “four finals” left to secure Champions League football as they prepare for the derby with Real Madrid on Sunday.
Atletico followed up a goalless draw with Granada by losing 2-0 to Athletic Bilbao last Saturday, allowing fifth-placed Real Betis to move just three points behind Simeone’s side.
LaLiga champions Real Madrid secured the title with four games to spare courtesy of a victory over Espanyol last weekend and are up next for Atletico, who have lost their past eight in all competitions against Los Blancos.
Madrid are also on an 11-game unbeaten streak against Atletico in LaLiga, their best such derby run against Simeone as coach, and the Argentine knows the Rojiblancos are in need of a result to ease the pressure.
“The reality is that we are in a decisive situation, there are four finals left,” he told reporters at a pre-match news conference on Saturday.
“We will face the derby in the best way, with great enthusiasm and try to evade everything that is being talked about around the situation. What worries us is the result.
“I hope that the team can express itself in the best way, that it is strong, focused, competitive and from there good things happen. If you show yourself strong, in the match everything will be positive.”
Atletico have already caused a stir prior to kick-off at Wanda Metropolitano by confirming they will not offer Madrid a guard of honour, with their strong response claiming the performative gesture was not required.
Instead, Atletico congratulated their neighbours in a statement and Simeone followed suit by commending the work of Carlo Ancelotti as he questioned the need for the media frenzy surrounding the guard of honour.
“Always in this search for questions they try to generate controversy, what he said, what he feels,” he added.
“The reality is what the club said in a statement, explained perfectly, to congratulate Real Madrid above all, to the footballers and to their coaching staff because they have done a great job.
“I have great respect for Madrid, who have just become champions, but we have more respect for our people who are with us all day.”
Despite Madrid already lifting the title, Simeone suggested Ancelotti will not make many tactical changes as he prepares for a familiar Los Blancos set-up.
“The structure is not going to change or the way of playing,” he continued. “Carlo is a great coach, with very clear ideas. In that case, the names vary but not the tactics.”
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