Diego Simeone has warned Barcelona that Atletico Madrid will not give up the fight for the La Liga title following their 4-0 defeat of Deportivo Alaves.
Atleti closed the gap to the leaders back to 10 points with an emphatic win at Mendizorroza, after Barca had beaten Espanyol 2-0 earlier on Saturday.
Simeone’s side suffered chastening defeats to Juventus in the Champions League and Athletic Bilbao in the league before the international break, but they swept aside top-four candidates Alaves in style thanks to goals from Saul Niguez, Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata and Thomas Partey.
And Simeone insists they still believe in their title chances, with the top-two meeting at Camp Nou next Saturday.
“What was most pleasing was they understood where we could hurt the opposition the most,” Simeone said after the win at Alaves.
“We aim to harm the opposition and not take long to create dangerous passes. We had to play quickly.
“In principle, the players needed a game like that, at a stadium where the opponents compete well. The conviction and the way we won makes us very happy.
“We can’t lose sight of the fact that, at any point in La Liga, competing is in our nature. And we want to compete for La Liga until our last breath.”
Thomas capped the win with a spectacular strike six minutes from time, which earned applause from the Alaves fans who stayed until the end.
“He did a great job,” Simeone said of the midfielder. “He has so much ability and he still has things to improve. The pleasure of a stadium applauding him will stay with him, and that’s something to appreciate.”
Barcelona had briefly extended their lead at the top earlier on Saturday thanks to a 2-0 victory over Espanyol.
Lionel Messi scored both goals, the first of which was a Panenka-style free-kick from the edge of the penalty area.
Next up for Ernesto Valverde’s side is a trip to Villarreal on Tuesday before that huge clash with Atletico at the Camp Nou.
Simeone’s side are also in midweek La Liga action at home to Girona before their trip to the league leaders next weekend.11 BUSINESS NUGGETS FROM SUPER EAGLES BRONZE MEDAL TRIUMPH. The content of this ebook will propel you above your competition. DOWNLOAD NOW!!!