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Sunday, 24 August 2014, 16:00

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La Liga weekend preview

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone has called on his players to make the most of this weekend's chance to close the gap on city rivals Real Madrid.

Last Updated: 26/04/13 at 08:24 Post Comment

Diego Simeone: Focus on Real Madrid

Diego Simeone: Focus on Real Madrid

Los Rojiblancos have tailed off after a fantastic start to the season and lie third, three points behind their neighbours.

However, Atletico can close the gap when the pair meet on Saturday - a match in which Simeone believes his side can triumph.

"The team is good," the Argentinian said.

"They put in a big performance in Seville, working hard as a group.

"We'll approach this game like any other league game, with the same excitement and enthusiasm to take the three points.

"We are closer to our target, it has taken a lot of hard work to get here and Saturday is another chance to get closer.

"We have to play better than them and I think Saturday is an opportunity that we have to make the most of."

Arda Turan is a doubt for Atletico and will be assessed tomorrow, while midfielder Tiago has started training again and could also be involved.

"The league is not finished on Saturday," Simeone added.

"There are a lot of games left to play and we always have the desire to keep growing, to improve on last season.

"The higher we can finish, the more important it will be for the club and for a team that has worked hard, we are strong and will continue to grow."

Saturday provides Jose Mourinho's side with the ideal opportunity to make amends for last night's embarrassing 4-1 Champions League semi-final first leg defeat at Borussia Dortmund.

Barcelona will also be hoping to hit back on Saturday, having also suffered a heavy defeat in Germany this week.

They lost their semi-final first leg 4-0 at Bayern Munich but travel to Athletic Bilbao knowing they could secure the La Liga crown if they collect three points and second-placed Real lose.

Levante host Celta Vigo and Mallorca travel to Real Zaragoza in Saturday's other fixtures, while Rayo Vallecano face Osasuna tomorrow night.

Sunday gives fourth-placed Real Sociedad a chance to put space between them and fifth-placed Valencia when the teams face off in San Sebastian.

Malaga sit sixth and face Getafe, Espanyol play Granada and Sevilla travel to Valladolid in Sunday's other fixtures, with Real Betis hosting resurgent Deportivo on Monday night.

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I

think all those names linked to United exits make sense. Kagawa has never really looked like hitting the form he had at Dortmund and Fellaini is radioactive after last season (even though I think he's been unfairly singled out for criticism). Nani and Anderson have had more than their fair share of chances so they are done, and Hernandez deserves better than warming a bench.

ted, manchester
The Insecure Gossip

H

e'll be off to Spurs (or better) in January and I don't blame him. Looking forward to re-signing Grant Holt as his replacement though.

notalentjones
Benteke ignoring speculation

I

n fairness, he does look absolutely shattered in that photo.....

FairyNuff
Shaw told to shape up

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