sport

Simeone looking to push on

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone is urging his players not to back off in the second part of the season.

Los Rojiblancos have lost ground on league leaders Barcelona in recent weeks but remain in second place, five points ahead of Real Madrid, and are through to the last 32 of the Europa League and quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey.

Simeone told the club's website: "The team has had a very solid and competitive first half of the season.

"The players have made a great effort to finish it well, but this doesn't stop for what is to come because championships are evaluated on how they finish. We are only halfway through the tournament.

"The team has worked well until now and we hope to continue growing and improving to have the best performance on the part of everyone."

Most impressively of all, Atleti have won all 14 of their games at the Vicente Calderon this season, but Simeone is wary of a Zaragoza side who have taken more points on the road than at home.

"We need to be attentive because Zaragoza is a great team and an opponent that is very strong away from home," he said.

"It is a hard game and we need to play an important game if we are to win the match."

With Alvaro Gonzalez suspended for the visitors, much of the responsibility for marking Falcao will fall upon Glenn Loovens and the former Celtic defender believes he will need some help from his team-mates to keep the Colombian quiet.

He told Marca: "The marking of Falcao will be a task for the whole defence. We need to give our best to be able to stop him.

"This season our numbers away from home are very good and we are going with a lot of confidence in our chances, but Atletico is a very strong team, above all at their stadium."