Diego Simeone expects Atletico Madrid and Real Valladolid to “give their lives” in a decisive final match in the LaLiga season.
Atleti head into Saturday’s contest with a two-point lead over city rivals Real Madrid at the top of the table.
They know that a victory will guarantee their first top-flight title since 2013-14, when a 1-1 draw at Barcelona on the final day denied the Catalans the trophy.
However, the stakes are also high for Valladolid, who must win to stand a chance of avoiding relegation to the second tier.
History is on Atleti’s side: Valladolid have not won any of their past 11 league meetings and failed to score in seven of the previous eight, while Sergio Gonzalez has gone eight LaLiga games without defeating Simeone, more than he has against any other head coach.
Simeone could become only the third Atletico coach to deliver two top-flight titles after Ricardo Zamora (1940 and 1941) and Helenio Herrera (1950 and 1951), so he could be forgiven for feeling the pressure.
However, the former midfielder says preparation for this weekend has been no different from the rest of the season.
“We’ve worked like every other week,” he said on Friday. “We’re concerned about the game against Valladolid, against an opponent who have their own needs and who will look to play a game like always.
“We understand that anything is possible in a game, and it’s evident Valladolid’s needs are different to ours, but they’re the same in terms of being important objectives.
“We’ve always tried to be immersed in deciding our game, which is the only thing that concerns us and the only thing that depends on us.
“All the teams have gone through different situations to get here. We’re two fighting for the league, three against relegation and three for the Europa League. That’s the Spanish league: game by game, you have to put in your utmost, hoping for the best in the end.
“It’s a final. Two teams are fighting for different goals and each will give their lives for that goal.”
Simeone would not offer any clues as to his starting line-up but did confirm there are some players facing late fitness tests.
“First, let’s see how two or three players under observation are doing and if they can start and, from there, tomorrow morning, we’ll decide the plan,” he added.