By ESPNSTAR.com staff
On Thursday night, Atletico secured passage to the Europa League round of 32 with a narrow win over Hapoel Tel-Aviv. Raul Garcia scored the only goal and the La Liga side need to ensure a win against second-placed Viktoria Plzeň in in the Czech Republic on December 6 to progress as group winners.
Just prior to that game, however, Atletico have a mouth-watering derby against arch-rivals Real Madrid with Los Rojiblancos ahead of the league giants in the league for the first time in 14 years.
Del Bosque, who has managed Real Madrid in the past, believes that the current Atletico outfit have been so impressive that they can actually upset their richer neighbours. And he is heartened by the inclusion of Atleti in the title race which has traditionally always been dominated by Madrid and Barcelona.
"[Atletico] are really playing like a team and of course I see them having a real chance of winning at the Bernabeu," he told marca.com.
"Atlético's role makes our league more exciting. Obviously we have two huge clubs, Madrid and Barcelona, but 'Atleti' is there in the mix and for now we have to applaud everything they've done in recent years, not just their European titles, but also their performances in the league.
"We can't possibly know if they can keep it up until the end, but they're there for now."
"We can only talk about what has happened, because it's difficult in football to talk about what is going to happen. But for now, Atlético de Madrid's performances are worthy of praise."
Defender Diego Godín was also bullish when asked about his own thoughts about the upcoming derby. He pointed out that while Atletico may not have the same budget or calibre of players as Madrid and Barca, they have done more than enough to bridge the gap by demonstrating a winning drive.
"It's very difficult [to match Madrid and Barca] due to their track record in recent years and their budgets," he told fifa.com. "[But] of course (we can challenge for the league). We can compete with anyone.
"We'll just have to see where we are at the end of the season. We're going to keep fighting to win one game at a time without thinking any further ahead."
Atletico have scored 31 points out of a possible 36 making them one of the most in-form sides in Europe. The Uruguayan credits their exemplary performances to coach Diego Simeone's hard work and believes the foundation had been laid way back when the Argentinean was appointed last year.
"This start to the season is the continuation of what we were already doing last season, when Simeone arrived (at the end of December 2011).
"He's responsible for what's happening."
The Madrid-based side next face Sevilla in La Liga at the Vicente Calderon on Sunday evening.