Diego  Simeone

Diego Simeone

Atletico Madrid are aiming to stay top of the Spanish Liga by beating lowly Elche at home on Friday.

Diego Simeone’s tough team need to win four out of their last five games to clinch their first league title since 1996.

“We are delighted to be competing for the league,” said forward Adrian.

“Fighting for the title has been impossible for us in recent years, because of the level of Real Madrid and Barcelona. But this year is different and the fans are very excited about this. We went to do it for them.

“Elche have a lot to play for and it will not be an easy game at all.”

Atletico should have Diego Costa back after he bruised his left leg scoring in Sunday’s 2-0 win at Getafe, though Arda Turan will probably not be fit in time.

Elche are in 15th place, four points above the relegation zone.

“We are not going to give up on the game already. We will try to make them uncomfortable,” said Elche coach Fran Escriva Wednesday.

“We will try to make things as difficult for them as possible, by working even harder than we usually do.”

Escriva will be without Edu Albacar, Manu del Moral and Domingo Cisma. Atletico are three points above neighbours Real, who visit lowly Valldaolid on Saturday.

Real will make the trip in good spirits after Wednesday’s 2-1 cup final defeat of Barcelona in Valencia.

“If we carry on playing with the same unity we showed tonight then other trophies might be in store for us,” said Real midfielder Isco after the final triumph.

“The truth is that we are finishing the season very well.”

Which can hardly be said about Barcelona, given their collapse in the past eight days.

Barca are four points behind Atletico, who ousted them from the Champions League – and facing their first trophyless season since 2008.

“This is very hard for us to take, but we just have to pick ourselves up and try to finish as strongly as possible in the league,” said veteran Andres Iniesta.

Barca will receive fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao on Sunday, with a poor crowd expected in the Camp Nou as a result of the recent setbacks.

The weekend’s other games are Sevilla v Granada, Real Sociedad v Espanyol, Osasuna v Valencia, Levante v Getafe, Malaga v Villarreal, Rayo Vallecano v Real Betis and Almeria v Celta Vigo.




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