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Simeone: "It's a direct clash, but there are a lot of games left to play"

Atlético's coach wouldn't describe Sunday's derby as being definitive in the title race. "We've trained with João and Correa alongside Suárez, we'll decide tomorrow".

Diego Pablo Simeone en un entrenamiento del Atlético.

Diego Pablo Simeone attended the media to discuss Sunday's derby against Real Madrid, a potentially key game in the battle for LaLiga. Atlético are five points ahead of their city rivals in the table with a game in hand.

Is this a derby worth more than three points?

It's turning out to be a great title race with all of the big teams looking to secure the best positions in the table. It's a top-of-the-table clash, a direct match between two teams who are in similar situations but it's only three points. There are still a lot of games to play and we will try to take the game where we want it to go to be able to hurt them.

What do João and Correa bring when partnering Luis Suárez?

We have trained with both options, and tomorrow we'll decide which combination to start the game with. João and Ángel have different characteristics - Ángel gives us a more dynamic edge within the team's game, while João is a special talent who can conjure something up out of nothing and his figures in front of goal are good. They have a healthy competition for a place. Both will play, one will start, the other might have to wait but both with get their turn.

How do you feel about Suarez dropping deeper?

It depends on which game you want to look at. We played deep against Sevilla and he did really well, we won that game, against Real Sociedad he put in an extraordinary performance and we won the game. Against Chelsea, which is the game I think you are probably referring to, we couldn't win a game where not much happened. It doesn't just depend on Suárez, but what you do when you have the ball. On thing is to start out deep but no be able to stay on the ball when you are in the opponents' half of the pitch which is what we managed to do against Sevilla and Real Sociedad.

Have you thought about how you can neutralise Madrid's midfield?

We usually use the same method against all of our rivals, finding the balance to cancel out the opposition's virtues, make the most of ours and from that, capitalise on what we do during the game - tomorrow will be no exception.

Who has more at stake tomorrow?

We are only thinking about ourselves, we don't know what they will be thinking. There's a lot at stake for us, but it'll be the same on Wednesday - as it was in our last game against Villarreal; since I came to Atlético, every game we play is vital. What do we need to do to get back winning? Have more urgency, play a balanced and great game…

How is Trippier afetr so long not be able to play?

He's been training all the while, he can't wait to get back playing. Imagine a footballer who can't play but trains every day... that's football for you. He's been working internally with us. He wants to play and he is very important for us - he has quality, precision, good decision-making and  helps us to keep possession of the ball in attack. From his position, he allows us to attack with deep balls into the box as well as with short passing moves.

How is João Félix?

João seems fine to me, as is the rest of the squad and the team. The team is in an extraordinary moment, playing well in the big matches and tomorrow we will have 18 outfield players plus the goalkeepers - some will start the game but all of them will play their part.

Have you considered changing the formation to control the midfield or will you keep the line of three centre-backs?

We have been studying it, and training in both ways on Wednesday and on Thursday. We'll decide tomorrow and see how things develop out on the pitch.

Would a win put Atleti too far ahead for Real Madrid to catch?

When I look at the figures, I see that in the battle for the Europa League places, Betis were out of the running 10 games ago and now they are competing well; 10 games ago there was a huge distance between Real Madrid and Barcelona and now we can all see how they are competing. There's no need to worry, none of the teams are playing badly and every game is complicated, we just have to keep on the path that we know.

Saúl played well in the last meeting with Madrid...

Saúl is always important for us. He's a lad who has spent the most years with us, he knows what we want and we need him. He has been responding well in our last few games, playing out wide or through the middle and we need him. How many minutes will he get? Whatever the game dictates.


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