Diego Simeone says Atletico Madrid have “four finals” left to play to secure 2022/2023 UEFA Champions League ticket as they prepare for the derby with Real Madrid on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid followed up a goalless draw with Granada by losing 2-0 to Athletic Bilbao last Saturday.
This allowed fifth-placed Real Betis to move just three points behind Simeone’s side.
LaLiga champions Real Madrid secured the title with four games to spare, courtesy of a victory over Espanyol last weekend.
They are up next for last term’s champions Atletico Madrid, who have lost their past eight matches in all competitions against Los Blancos.
Real Madrid are also on an 11-game unbeaten streak against Atletico Madrid in LaLiga, their best such derby run against Simeone as coach.
But the Argentine knows the Rojiblancos are in need of a result to ease the pressure.
“The reality is that we are in a decisive situation, there are four finals left,” he told a pre-match news conference on Saturday.
“We will face the derby in the best way, with great enthusiasm and try to evade everything that is being talked about around the situation. What worries us is the result.
“I hope that the team can express itself in the best way, that it is strong, focused, competitive and from there good things happen. If you show yourself strong, in the match everything will be positive.”
Atletico Madrid have already caused a stir prior to kick-off at the Wanda Metropolitano by confirming they will not offer Real Madrid a guard of honour.
Instead, Atletico Madrid congratulated their neighbours in a statement.
Simeone followed suit by commending the work of Carlo Ancelotti as he questioned the need for the media frenzy surrounding the guard of honour.
“Always in this search for questions they try to generate controversy,” he added.
“The reality is what the club said in a statement…to congratulate Real Madrid above all, to the footballers and to their coaching staff because they have done a great job.
“I have great respect for Real Madrid, who have just become champions, but we have more respect for our people who are with us all day.”
In spite of Real Madrid already lifting the title and having a UEFA Champions League final match on the horizon, Simeone suggested Ancelotti will not make many tactical changes.
He said he would prepare for a familiar Los Blancos set-up.
“The structure is not going to change or the way of playing,” he continued.
“Carlo is a great coach, with very clear ideas. In that case, the names vary but not the tactics.”