Atletico Madrid Coach Diego Simeone has stressed his respect for Real Madrid and their boss Jose Mourinho ahead of Saturday’s derby.

For the first time in 13 years Atleti go into a Madrid derby ahead of their arch rivals on points. Simeone’s side will go 11 points clear of Los Blancos and effectively kill their hopes of retaining the title if they are triumphant tomorrow night.

“We know the people are excited and we will not move away from their feelings, but we are facing a powerful team, the reigning champions,” said ‘El Cholo’ in his Press conference today.

“I have admiration for Mourinho. He is a winner and has shown that worldwide. I went to see him one week when he was at Inter. He is a trainer that I like.

“There are not nine points at stake, but three. We must show we are competitive and play a great game. They are the best opponent possible; they need points, like any opponent coming off a loss.

“I look at our opponent for the players they have and not their position in the table. I hope our team will surprise in the first 15-20 minutes.”

Simeone is not overly concerned by his club’s failure to win a derby since 1999, or by accusations that Los Colcheneros are a one man team reliant on Radamel Falcao.

“We don’t stop to think about the numbers. We are prepared and committed. I don’t like to stop and look to the past, only what we face now.

“We will think of the game as a team, as we have been doing. We don’t think individually, only as a group, and ultimately that empowers the individual.

“In life when you are going through things, unity is strength. Fans may not be with us because tickets are expensive, but we should be together.”

Tags Falcao Jose Mourinho Simeone
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