Thibaut Courtois has conceded that Sunday’s Madrid derby will be ‘a final’ for Atletico Madrid.
The Rojiblancos play Real Madrid at Vicente Calderon tomorrow, and the goalkeeper has admitted that if his men lose, they are likely to be out of the title race.
“Yes [it’s like a final],” he told AS. “As they are three points ahead we have no choice but to win and return to the top of the table.
“It’s going to be a tough match because Madrid are playing well.
“They hardly concede goals and score two or three every game. We’re expecting a great game in the Calderón that we will win.
“Maybe they found adapting to Ancelotti’s ideas difficult, which is normal when a new Coach comes in.
“But what you can see is that defensively they are more solid. They don’t give much away. Up front they are also looking good."
The Belgium international then commented on Luka Modric’s form and Diego Costa’s adaption to a 4-2-3-1 formation.
“Modric has found his rhythm at Madrid and has started to play a leading role. Now it’s not just Xabi Alonso looking for him, Pepe and Ramos also look for him constantly to play out of defence and so that he can distribute the ball.
“Our job is to not give him any space. With space they’re deadly and they showed it in Gelsenkirchen. We need to close them down.
“The team is used to playing in a certain way. Diego is a great player and he likes to get on the ball and look for space.
“The way we play has changed a little bit compared to a couple of years ago. Diego has to adapt to it and we have to adapt to him – the problem is that we are at a stage in the season when games are coming thick and fast, without too many training sessions in the middle and for the gaffer finding a solution is not easy.
“Against La Real he started really well. Diego is not the one losing these games. The team in general played worse than in other games.
“We’re different to Schalke. They were very open against Madrid and left a lot of space which Madrid could take advantage of with their pace. We know it’s going to be a difficult match because of their current run of form.”
Courtois then remarked on what will be the key to winning the match, and the goalkeeping situation at Los Blancos
“Seeing who defends better. Closing down and concentrating, keeping a clean sheet because up front we’re going to get chances.
“It’s going to be a great game and I hope we’ll be able to dedicate the win to our fans.
“Normally one goalkeeper plays every game. I don’t know what Ancelotti’s idea is, or how they train during the week.
“Clearly Diego López is playing really well in La Liga and Casillas, as we saw against Schalke, is doing a great job in the Champions League. What Iker is doing deserves a lot of credit, because he spends periods out of the game and when he is called upon he does a good job.
“That’s very difficult for a goalkeeper. When you’re out for two or three weeks and suddenly you have to start it’s difficult because you lose the feel for the goal.
“That’s something you don’t get in training, it’s not the same. You can’t simulate that in training. What Casillas is doing deserves credit, but Diego López has also shown how important he is to Madrid.”
Finally, the shot-stopper spoke about his future.
“I don’t want to speed things up and make a bad decision. I still have to think more about it.
“It’s difficult with so many difficult games and it’s also not the right time to be making a decision. I’m a Chelsea player, I have a contract and I don’t have to take a rushed decision.”
“My representative is dealing with that and he tells me the most important things. What’s happening is Atlético want me to stay and Chelsea want me to return.
“We’ll have to see where I feel better; I’m still not completely sure and that’s why I haven’t made a decision.”