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Atletico focus turns to Europe spot for 2015/16

23 April 2015, 10:28

Madrid - Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has been a constant thorn in Real Madrid's side this season but Wednesday's Champions League clash at the Bernabeu was a bridge too far for the Argentine and his overachieving side.

Atletico had a chance to eliminate the team who beat them in last season's final but after holding Real to a 0-0 draw in last week's quarter-final, first leg at the Calderon they barely threatened in the return at the Bernabeu.

A Javier Hernandez strike two minutes from time, after Atletico had Arda Turan sent off for a second booking, put the holders through to the last four 1-0 on aggregate and ended a run of seven matches this season in which they had failed to win against their city rivals.

Atletico twice beat Real in La Liga, including a 4-0 drubbing at the Calderon in February, won over two legs to claim the Spanish Super Cup in August and also knocked Real out of the King's Cup with a 4-2 aggregate success.

Simeone has transformed Atletico into contenders in Spain and Europe since taking over at the end of 2011 and their record against Real, the world's richest club by income, this term is astonishing considering the gulf in resources.

Also read: Bruised Mandzukic expected to face Real

Real's squad is worth 711 million euros, according to website Transfermarkt.de, more than twice as much as Atletico's, which has a market value of 338 million.

Atletico's task now is to hold on to third place in La Liga and secure an automatic berth in the Champions League group stage for the 2015-16 campaign.

A place in Europe's elite club competition, and the riches it brings with it, is crucial to Atletico's chances of competing with the elite in Spain and Europe.

"The goals are the ones we always had," Simeone told a news conference.

"Winning the Super Cup at the beginning of the year and closing it with the third place, which is obviously what the club needs," he added.

"The club comes out of this stronger. We are among the eight best clubs in Europe, which is not easy to achieve.

"We are a club which is working hard, which is growing enormously step by step and which is a contender in all the competitions at this level."

Atletico are third in La Liga on 69 points, four ahead of fourth-placed Valencia, and host Elche on Saturday.

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- Reuters


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