SIMEONE MAINTAINS FAITH IN SQUAD
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone believes in the squad at his disposal despite a run of three Primera Division defeats in four games.
Simeone's men went down 4-1 at the Vicente Calderon against Real Madrid on Wednesday night to remain eight points off the Champions League places, but the Argentinian insists they can still compete for a European place and win the Europa League between now and the end of the season.
Speaking ahead of Sunday's trip to Rayo Vallecano, he told the club's website: "I believe a lot in this squad. Since I took this job I have had a base group of players to work with and we believe we can finish the season competitively in the league and in Europe. This is our vision. I will not criticise the players."
Simeone is expecting another difficult game, though, when Atletico travel across the city for another derby against Rayo on Sunday night.
"They are a difficult opponent," he said. "Above all they are very dangerous from middle to front and we have to be wary of this. We need to counter-act their intensity and aggressiveness that they usually play with at home."
Miranda, Mario Suarez and Eduardo Salvio all return from suspension for Atletico and Koke could also come into the side that started on Wednesday.
Rayo, however, could have up to seven players missing due to a combination of contractual issues and injuries.
Diego Costa, Jorge Pulido and Joel are all on-loan from Atletico and so cannot play against their parent club, while Michel, Sueliton Pereira, Javi Fuego and Michel Labaka are all out injured and Emilio Armenteros is a doubt.
However, winger Piti still reckons they can cause an upset against their more illustrious neighbours.
He told Marca: "For us the games are difficult no matter who plays and against adversity this team has always responded well. It is true that they are important absences for us but moaning about it won't help anything.
"We are desperate to play against a big team and not just put on a good show, but win."
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