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Simeone: Atletico not focused on Barca gap

Griezmann-Cropped Atletico Madrid celebrate a goal against Las Palmas (source: Getty Images)

Diego Simeone insists Atletico Madrid are focusing solely on themselves and not on the gap to LaLiga leaders Barcelona or their advantage over third-placed Valencia.

Atletico moved, at least temporarily, within eight points of Barca and six clear of Valencia with a 3-0 win over Las Palmas on Sunday.

Goals from Antoine Griezmann and Fernando Torres effectively secured a first win in four games in all competitions, before Thomas Partey added late gloss to the scoreline.

But asked whether Atletico are looking up at Barca or down at Valencia, Simeone responded: “Barcelona is far [ahead]. The best thing is to look at ourselves. It depends on us, having won today and finishing the season well.”

Diego Costa, who missed both legs of the Copa del Rey defeat to Sevilla with a hamstring issue, was again out of the squad and Kevin Gameiro was unavailable due to illness.

“It was not an easy game for the start, for the circumstances, and the absence of Gameiro and Costa,” Simeone added.

“The team resolved again a difficult moment. That is what I am taking from today’s game. We are coming back from a very hard blow going out of the Copa del Rey.

“We are rebuilding continually, we could not sign last summer [due to a transfer ban], now we have had to let some players leave this January. It has been like that all year.”

Griezmann credited Simeone for Atletico’s three-goal second half, the hosts having been largely unconvincing in the opening 45 minutes.

“The first half was not so good, but the coach [Simeone] knew what to say at the break,” he said.

“We reacted, pressuring up high, and had many chances. We scored three goals, and didn’t concede any. So it was perfect.”

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