Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone insisted the defending champions will not give up on the LaLiga title following their 2-0 derby defeat to Real Madrid.
El Derbi honours went to Madrid, who accounted for city rivals Atletico thanks to goals from Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.
Benzema opened the scoring with a sublime finish in the 16th minute before Asensio doubled the lead approaching the hour-mark in the Spanish capital.
The result moved Madrid eight points clear at the summit and 13 points ahead of fourth-placed Atletico, who have a game in hand.
However, Simeone – a two-time LaLiga winner with Atletico – is refusing to concede the title race just yet.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) December 12, 2021
“Obviously the title is race is still up for grabs,” Simeone told reporters. “There’s loads of games left to be played, but it’s obvious that Real Madrid have a healthy lead at the moment.
“That’s credit to them. But we know how the Spanish league works. It’s complicated, it’s long and we can’t allow ourselves to just give up and think further ahead than our next opponent, which is Real Betis.
“We have a game less that we haven’t played yet. And we’ll have to use that to close the gap with the top. We can’t think from about anything else, apart from that.”
On the defeat to Carlo Ancelotti’s Madrid, Simeone added: “I think it was a game that, up until the first goal, was a very level match where there were chances at either side.
“Madrid were very clinical in front of goal and we improved in the second half. We also had chances, but their goalkeeper did very well to keep them out. And from there, their second goal really was a tough blow for us. I think they won, deservedly, and they were just very clinical in front of goal.
“Well, more than anything, I think we put in another big effort and we played well with [Geoffrey] Kondogbia playing defensively as a centre-back. And the team worked collectively very well and we put in a big effort in Portugal. And today, obviously conceding a goal is painful because it comes from a situation that we talked about as a team.
“But Real Madrid are very good on the counter-attack. I like watching their football a lot, sitting deep and working well hard, and they’re very good in transition, which is near to our style of play. Obviously [Carlo] Ancelotti is a very, very good manager and he’s come back here to do things well and we’ve seen that the Spaniard.”