Elche vs Atletico Madrid

Defender Juanfran has praised the quality of squad Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has at his disposal this season.

Los Rojiblancos held Zenit St. Petersburg to a 1-1 Champions League draw in Russia this week, with Simeone resting some of his regular starting line-up as qualification for the knock-out stage was already assured.

However, some pundits have questioned the depth of the Atleti bench if they are to remain in contention for the La Liga title, an allegation the Spanish international dismissed in an interview with AS.

“Those who say we don’t have a great squad are wrong. The players that came in [against Zenit] put on a great performance and the people who follow us know that.

“There is still a long way to go in the League and we are all saying what our Coach thinks, that if it gets near the end and we are still up there we will be contenders.

“If we’ve still got a chance with five games left then we’ll be fighting for the title.” he declared.

Juanfran, one of the players retained for the Zenit clash, believes that in St. Petersburg the players showed another side to their character.

“We are a winning team. It is our mentality and that of the Coach. We were very supportive, all working and running for each other. But we have many weapons in our armoury to win matches.

“It is one of our strengths that we can win any game in a different way, and I think that is the hallmark of this team.”

Simeone’s men travel to the Martinez Valero this weekend and Juanfran is looking forward to meeting up again with current Elche boss, and former Atleti assistant Coach, Fran Escriba.

“I think Fran Escriba is a fantastic Coach and his teams work really well tactically. Against Valencia they didn’t play their best game, yet they won.

“We know Fran and he likes to work on set-pieces. They are very strong at dead-ball situations and have quick players up front, while his team knows what they are capable of,” he warned.

La Liga - Club News