Diego Simeone is expecting a tough game against ‘one of the best squads in Spain’ when Atletico Madrid host Valencia this weekend.
Los Che visit the Vicente Calderon as the first team this season to have defeated Atleti, in the reverse fixture back in November.
“Valencia’s players are still the same and the characteristics of the players the same,” reflected Simeone when comparing then to now.
“They have improved in terms of results and obviously they’re fighting to get in to the positions they deserve to be for the squad they’ve got. We expect a team that plays well, that are in my opinion one of the best squads in the Spanish League.
“I hope for a full stadium against a major rival and a great team. They have very important players in almost all areas of the field and are good from set pieces.
“There will be two teams with intentions, ours to stay where we are and theirs to break into the top spots of the League. It will be an entertaining match.”
El Cholo is one win away from 50 as Coach of Atletico Madrid, but says that reaching this milestone will not be his ambition for Sunday evening’s clash.
“We cannot change our approach of playing game by game, it makes us stronger. It doesn’t tie us to a numerical target. We focus on trying to improve, trying to play every game as if it were our last. And that's the way we go.
“There are 30 points remaining. The Spanish League is long and last year I said that it is a marathon, all teams go through difficult times and you must get up quickly after each games.
“There are teams in the League who have bad spells and then they recovered. We must consider that every game is important and worth three points. That will lead us to the goal that is closer.
“The excitement is at its highest for these last 10 games. It's what wakes you up as you close in on the goal and the illusion of being able to finish the season in the best way possible.
“All the good we are doing is more important if we finish well.”
Simeone was asked if it was disheartening to be so far behind League leaders Barcelona and to have recently been overtaken in the standings by Real Madrid.
“No, because the reality is the have a budget much bigger than ours. Our reality is what we can give.
“When you look at the Champions League and see Barcelona and Real Madrid with results that we all believed would be difficult and they turned it around, with our tools we’re trying to be between these two.
“We try to be stronger and stronger and we can in to these last 10 games with no aspiration to move away from going match by match.”