Simeone demands Atletico fight

Wednesday’s narrow loss to Real Madrid saw their Champions League hopes end in the quarter-finals, and barring an improbable collapse by Real and Barcelona, the Primera Division title will not be staying at the Vicente Calderon.

Simeone is not known for surrendering, though, and ahead of this weekend’s home clash with Elche he has called on his side to maintain their trademark intensity until the end.

“I am proud of having these players,” he told his club’s official website.

“I am happy with having a team like the one we have and I completely identify with their work.

“We are among the top eight in Europe, which is not easy, and the club is stronger. I tell our fans they should feel happy and proud of the players we have.

“The objective is the one we always had. Having won the Super Cup at the beginning of the year, we want to close with third place, and that is what the club needs.”

Simeone’s enthusiasm for a high-energy finish has permeated through to the dressing room, too.

“Real was a difficult game, but we have to hold our heads high and think about the next match,” said Joao Miranda.

Atletico are four points clear of fourth-placed Valencia with six games to be played.

Elche head to the Spanish capital with their relegation fears eased.

Wins over Real Sociedad and Cordoba have pushed them clear of the drop zone, but a long injury list is not helping their cause.

Edu Albacar and Sergio Pelegrin are struggling, while Jose Angel is set for six months out with a cruciate knee injury.

“It’s a problem and a long summer, but I have to cope with it and think of my recovery,” he told Efe Player.