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Tuesday, 16 September 2014, 19:45

Champions League Group A

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Atletico Madrid striker Adrian Lopez has insisted his side's focus is firmly on Saturday's Primera Division trip to Celta Vigo and not on next week's European glamour tie against AC Milan.

Last Updated: 07/03/14 at 14:51 Post Comment

Adrian Lopez: Thoughts on Celta Vigo

Adrian Lopez: Thoughts on Celta Vigo

Atletico will secure a place in the quarter-finals of the Champions League for the first time in 17 years on Tuesday if they can defend the 1-0 lead they earned from their trip to Milan last month.

However, while that match will assuredly be whetting the appetite of the Rojiblancos faithful more than a league clash with mid-table Celta, Adrian believes the players are not looking beyond the trip to Pontevedra as they seek to continue their title push.

The Spain international, whose side are three points behind leaders Real Madrid following last week's 2-2 home draw with their arch rivals, told a press conference: "It's a very important match because at this stage of the season, the games are like a final. If we want to continue being up there we have to try and get the three points.

"We're focused on it. We will then face the Champions League match, but now I'm thinking about the next match against Celta Vigo."

Atletico are set to be without three key players for the Celta match, with top scorer Diego Costa, Arda Turan and Diego Godin all suspended.

Adrian is backing the rest of the squad to cope with their absences though, saying: "Clearly they are important losses. But for that we have other players working hard to do well when they get a chance to play."

On paper, all three clubs in the title race will be expected to win this weekend.

Aside from Atletico, reigning champions Barcelona travel to third-bottom Real Valladolid on Saturday knowing a win would put them back to the top of the standings.

However, it would be a huge surprise if they stayed there any longer than 24 hours with Carlo Ancelotti's in-form Real playing host to Levante on Sunday on the back of a stunning 28-match unbeaten run in all competitions.

Real were somewhat fortunate to extend that sequence last weekend, needing a late equaliser from Cristiano Ronaldo to salvage a draw from their trip to Atletico, but club captain Iker Casillas does not believe that will have negatively affected the squad.

He said: "I don't think it will have generated doubts at any point. They were a difficult team to play against and were going to push us. It was a crucial game and we've finished it ahead (in the table).

"We're top and we have to be aware of the importance that has, because months ago we were behind. Now we have to defend that position."

Just behind the top three, Athletic Bilbao will attempt to take a step closer to securing themselves the fourth and final Champions League spot when they travel to Valencia.

Athletic are currently six points clear of fifth-placed Villarreal, who go to Granada, and a further point above sixth-placed local rivals Real Sociedad, who are in action on Monday night against second-bottom Rayo Vallecano.

Elsewhere this weekend, last-placed Real Betis take on Getafe looking to cut the 11-point gap between themselves and safety, while Sevilla take on Andalusian rivals Almeria, Elche go to Espanyol and Osasuna meet Malaga.

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Readers' Comments

M

ark clattenburg is one of those referees that tends to get stick from both sides cos he likes to let the game flow and is quite lenient, and people only remember the fouls against their own team that go unpunished whilst not noticing the ones they've gotten away with. To pick up 4 yellow cards with clattenburg in charge speaks volumes about your approach to the game mr pellegrini.

cc1
Pellegrini: Ref cost us game

V

astly under-rated goal keeper. Barcelona could have gone out and bought a keeper at any point they liked, but they stuck with him for a reason.

HarryBoulton
Victor Valdes The Perfect Option For Liverpool

A

s things stand he's joined the team at the top of Serie A :)

shea666
Milan: Van Ginkel deal tough

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