MADRID (Reuters) - Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said Real Madrid have the best squad in world football ahead of his side’s La Liga game away to their city rivals, which could go a long way to determining which team finishes second in the standings.
Atletico only have 16 outfield players available against Real and Simeone contrasted his side’s limited options with Zinedine Zidane’s all-powerful group of players, which made it hard to predict what starting XI his side would come up against.
“I don’t know if Madrid are the best team in the world but they absolutely have the best squad,” Simeone told a news conference on Saturday ahead of the Madrid derby.
“They have done an excellent job as a club (in building their squad), a better one than Paris St Germain, Manchester City and Barcelona and that’s their main strength as a team. Until we see their line-up we don’t know how they’ll set up. It’s more clear what we are going to do.”
Second-placed Atletico have a four-point lead over Real after 30 games and a win at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday would be a giant step towards finishing above their illustrious neighbours for the first time since winning the title in 2014.
Simeone, however, said he still had faint hope of his team keeping chase with runaway league leaders Barcelona, who have a nine-point lead at the top of the table.
“The only thing I’m thinking about, perhaps because I’m too enthusiastic or too hopeful, is in getting closer to Barcelona,” the Argentine said.
Atletico are without defenders Jose Gimenez, Sime Vrsaljko and Filipe Luis due to injuries while Real’s only expected absence is defender Nacho Fernandez.
Reporting by Richard Martin; Editing by Christian Radnedge