Atletico Madrid: Koke fizzing ahead of Madrid ‘final’

Koke Atletico Madrid midfielder

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Atletico Madrid midfielder Koke insists he and his team-mates have moved on from the defeat to Osasuna and will treat Sunday’s Madrid derby like a cup final.

The race for the Spanish title is one of the tightest in Europe, with the duopoly of Real and Barcelona being challenged by Los Colchoneros this term.

Real sit top of the pile on 63 points with the Catalans and Atletico just three points behind and so Sunday’s clash at Estadio Vicente Calderon has taken on even more meaning than usual.

Real are in superb form at present and their 6-1 thrashing of Schalke in the Champions League earlier this week was described as “perfect” by manager Carlo Ancelotti.

Conversely, Atletico suffered a shock 3-0 reverse to Osasuna last time out in La Liga and they will be looking to bounce straight back.

And Koke has made it clear that they have now drawn a line under last week’s defeat and stressed that everyone at the club is well up for this weekend’s massive challenge.

“The defeat in Pamplona is behind us now,” he told reporters. “We’ll be confronting the derby as though it’s a final. Three points are up for grabs but it’s special because it’s against Real Madrid.”

Manager Diego Simeone is expected to leave out-of-form duo Diego Ribas and David Villa on the bench, with Raul Garcia starting in attack alongside Diego Costa, while Koke, Arda Turan and Miranda should all come back into the starting XI.

Ancelotti is unlikely to make too many changes to the team that downed Schalke but Alvaro Arbeloa and Raphael Varane may come in to replace Dani Carvajal and Pepe in defence.

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