Diego Simeone has continued to play down Atletico Madrid’s title hopes throughout the season, despite keeping pace with the league leaders Barcelona. The two meet next week in what could be the acid test as to whether Atletico really are good enough to lift the La Liga crown.
Simeone has been misquoted recently saying he would like 2014 to bring him the La Liga title. If you have had an eye on Simeone’s press conferences since the beginning of last season, you will notice that this is the first time he has spoken about winning the league. It appears that the Italian news agency made up these quotes from Simeone, as the press agent for Atletico, Jose Luis Pasques, has claimed.
Journalists have been trying to put words into El Cholo’s mouth all season, but what does the rest of the division think about Atleti’s title hopes? Is 2014 the season the Real/Barca duopoly is finally broken?
Atletico Madrid defender Filipe Luis: “We have our philosophy, thinking match by match. We want to be up there in all competitions, but without looking beyond each game as it comes.”
Atleti defender Diego Godin: “We have maintained our form, we have been very consistent and are playing well, both in the Champions League and the League. Can we win the League title? Much remains, but we hope to continue like this.”
Spain & Atleti full-back Juanfran: “In Spanish football in general we have created a dream and a desire amongst fans that we can fight with Madrid and Barcelona with their budgets and their workforce. It is early to ask [about 2014], but I am sure that if I say something then it is from the heart, that 2014 will be a better year than 2013. We are going to continue as we are or get better.”
Atletico’s on-loan keeper Thibaut Courtois: “Not yet, we cannot start to think about winning the League. If come the final five games of the season we are there, then yes, we can think consider it. From now there is still a long way to go. We are continuing game by game, as we have been, always the same.”
Man United transfer target & Atleti winger Koke: “We always keep our feet on the ground, we think of ourselves, to keep doing the same things and play every game like a final. We must go on and I hope that when we can be here with just five games to play. We are going step by step. I repeat that we face every game like a final and we must continue doing that.”
Real Madrid striker Cristiano Ronaldo: “I’m not surprised about Atletico, they have been very strong since last year and are a well organised team with a great Coach, great players, a very good goalkeeper. They will fight to win the League and are a very strong candidate. However, I have the conviction that Madrid is going to win it.”
Barcelona winger Pedro: “Atletico have had a sensational return and they are a strong title candidate.”
Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets: “There’s a lot left to the league and our advantage is important. All three teams [Barça, Atlético, Madrid] are equal.”
Barcelona centre-back Marc Barta: “Atletico are pushing us hard and you only have to see them play. They have a winning attitude and I think that is down to their Coach, who has instilled it into them. They have good players and are improving all the time, something we will also have to do if we are to remain leaders.”
Malaga manager Berndt Schuster: “They’re the the team with the best defence and one that are fighting for La Liga, that are in the Champions League and who are amongst the favourites.”
Levante boss Joaquin Caparros: “I think it would be very welcome to see Atleti go all the way. They have a mentality that every team can get behind and support.”
Malaga defender Jose Camacho: “I hope they can win the League this season as they’ve shown just how good they are.”
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