With a Champions League last-16 tie and games with Sevilla and Valencia on the horizon, Diego Simeone’s side know the importance of recapturing their form
Despite a potentially season-defining month ahead of them, Atletico Madrid are looking no further than Saturday’s home clash with Almeria.
Atletico could easily be distracted by a fixture programme that sees them up against Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16 of the Champions League and a tie that sandwiches matches against their two main rivals for third spot in La Liga – Sevilla and Valencia.
The reigning Liga champions occupy the third and final Champions League qualification place at present, but are now seven points adrift of leaders Real Madrid after losing 2-0 at Celta Vigo last Sunday.
And defender Jesus Gamez has insisted that Atleti are concerned only with getting back to winning ways against 16th-placed Almeria on Saturday – and not their clashes with Leverkusen, Sevilla and Valencia.
“We continue to fight at the top for the place where we want to be and we’re not going to change that,” Gamez told the club’s official website.
“The game against Almeria is, right now, the most important one and when it’s over, we’ll still be thinking about the next one.
“That’s why we can’t downplay any matches. You can’t think about the following one if you don’t win the one you have first.
“We know they’re going to be complicated matches – we have the first one on Saturday and then we will continue moving forward.”
Almeria, meanwhile, have moved four points clear of the Liga relegation zone on the back of a three-match unbeaten run.
Wins over Getafe and Cordoba were followed by a 2-2 home draw against Real Sociedad last time out.
Almeria have never won at Atletico Madrid, coming closest in March 2011 when they drew 2-2. But they did beat Diego Simeone’s side last term, with a Verza double giving them a 2-0 home win.
Miranda scored the only goal of Atleti’s 1-0 success at Almeria earlier this season.