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Atletico coach Simeone positive over title run-in

05 May 2014, 16:03

Barcelona - Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone is in upbeat mood ahead of a potentially thrilling finale to the La Liga season with the top three sides remaining in title contention after a weekend of upsets.

With two games remaining, Atletico have 88 points and are still in the driving seat despite a 2-0 defeat at Levante on Sunday, as Real Madrid failed to take advantage and needed a late goal from Cristiano Ronaldo to scramble a 2-2 home draw against Valencia.

Barcelona, who also drew 2-2 against Getafe on Saturday, are second - three points behind while Real lie third on 83 points with a game in hand.

"We have always followed the same balanced line. We have always said that we are playing against two very powerful rivals and it is difficult for them to lose their games," Simeone told a news conference after Sunday's defeat.

"On this occasion we have been beaten and now we have in front of us three weeks full of emotion, pure football. The league now is a lot more exciting."

As well as leading the fight for the championship Atletico have also booked a place in the May 24 Champions League final against Real Madrid.

"We have three fantastic weeks, including the game on the 24th. We are anticipating three finals and we need to concentrate on the first of those which is against Malaga next Sunday," added Simeone.

Should Real win their final games, a win by their arch-rivals Barcelona over Atletico would hand them the title.

"I am just looking at Madrid and no other teams. We have to do our work and see what happens. We are not going to put our trust in anyone," Real fullback Marcelo told reporters after the Valencia draw.

"We lost a great opportunity here but at least we got a draw. It is difficult to know what went wrong but this happens in football and now we need to lift our heads up and keep fighting."

Spain is set for one of their tightest finishes ever after complaints in recent seasons that the championship had become predictable.

The financial muscle of Real and Barcelona has made them increasingly more dominant with the pair having won the La Liga title between them since Valencia were crowned champions in 2004.

However, Atletico have now given new life to the race.

Since the introduction of the three-point win in the 1995-96 season, in only two campaigns have three teams had the chance to be champions going into the final match.

Deportivo La Coruna came out on top in 2000 against Barcelona and Zaragoza while in 2007 Real Madrid beat Barcelona and Sevilla to the title. 

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- Reuters


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