Atletico Madrid coach Diego
Simeone is just the man to exploit Real Madrid's ragged nerves
as his side try to end a 13-year winless run against their more
illustrious neighbours on Wednesday.
Simeone, often described as playing with a knife between his
teeth when he captained Argentina, has brought some of his
uncompromising tenacity to Atletico who have lost only once at
home since he arrived in the winter break.
La Liga leaders Real, on the other hand, will have their
nerves on edge after seeing a 10-point lead over Barcelona cut
to four in the space of three weeks. Their latest slipup was a
0-0 draw at home to Valencia on Sunday.
"Perhaps we were a little anxious and rushed when making the
final pass," said Real director Emilio Butragueno.
"Wednesday's game will be vital for us to get some breathing
space," added the former Real forward known in his playing days
as the Vulture. "There is no let up, we have a terrible month in
front of us."
While Real have drawn three of their last five league
matches, a Lionel Messi-inspired Barca have won nine on the trot
and host Getafe on Tuesday.
Real are chasing their first league title since 2008 and
have 79 points after 31 games. Barca have 75 and are seeking
their fourth straight La Liga crown.
Jose Mourinho's side, on paper, have a tougher run-in, with
further trips to play Athletic Bilbao and Barcelona on April 21.
"After drawing against Valencia, we have to win at the
Calderon," Real defender Raul Albiol told reporters.
If Real and Barca finish the season level on points the
head-to-head results between them would decide the title, as
happened when Fabio Capello's Real team won in 2007.
Maintaining a four-point gap helps keep the pressure off the
'clasico' in Barcelona in two weeks time, as Pep Guardiola's
side hold a 3-1 advantage from their victory at the Bernabeu in
Europa League semi-finalists Atletico, who are seventh,
slumped to a 2-0 defeat at Levante on Sunday and are running out
of options in their push for a top four finish.
"We have to respect Real because they are the leaders, they
are more than 30 points ahead of us, and are one of the best
teams in their history," Atletico's Brazilian defender Felipe
"We are all very keen to end this run of many years without
Bayern fans snap up 45,000 tickets to watch Champions League final live at Allianz Arena
When Sir Alex wakes up on Monday morning without team to manage, he will not be putting his feet up
Paris Saint-Germain midfielder announces he will be retiring at the end of the current season
Record goal-scorer signs a one-year contract extension with Europa League winners Chelsea
Ten years on, the legends speak to FFT
Your questions answered by an A to Z of legends
He's here, he's there, he's...
The cost of Premier League away travel
Nike CR7 IX for you
FourFourTwo is brought to you by Haymarket Consumer Media & FourFourTwo is part of Haymarket Sport
| International Licensing | © Haymarket Media Group 2010