Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo said his team will “battle to the end” after a weekend in which they cut the gap to seven points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona.
Barcelona’s phenomenal start to the season, along with regular slips from reigning champions Real Madrid, had Barca coach Ernesto Valverde fielding questions about his team already having won the trophy even before the season reached its halfway point.
However, Sunday’s 0-0 draw at home to Getafe, following last weekend’s 1-1 draw at Espanyol, has offered some hope of a close title race — especially after nearest challengers Atletico won 1-0 at bottom side Malaga on Saturday thanks to Antoine Griezmann’s early goal.
Atletico’s 52 points from 23 games is the second-best tally of Diego Simeone’s six seasons in charge and has only been surpassed when they won the title in 2013-14, while the nine goals conceded so far by goalkeeper Jan Oblak is the joint-best in La Liga history.
— AS (@diarioas) February 12, 2018
Cerezo told AS that Atletico could improve their position still further if they won at the Camp Nou on March 4.
“We will keep battling until the end,” Cerezo said. “We still have to play Barcelona. It will be very interesting.”
Speaking after Saturday’s game, Simeone was less keen to promote the idea that a real title race was developing again.
“We do not look at the opponents. We just stick to our own path, trying to improve on last season,” Simeone said. “We are relaxed, and know that we must play better.”
Dermot Corrigan is a Madrid-based football writer who covers La Liga and the Spain national team for ESPN FC. Follow him on Twitter @dermotmcorrigan