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Pressure mounts for Atlético as LaLiga finale looms

Madrid, May 21 (EFE).- The pressure is on for Atlético Madrid, who must ensure a victory against Valladolid in the Spanish league’s crunch finale or face losing the trophy to cross-city rivals Real Madrid.

“Anything is possible,” Atlético manager Diego Simeone told a press conference ahead of Saturday’s decisive fixture.

“It’s a final where two teams are fighting for different objectives, both very important, and both would give their lives to achieve those,” he added.

Valladolid are fighting for survival in the Spanish top-fight and have a slim chance of staying up if they beat Atlético. Even then, they will have to rely on Elche not beating Athletic Bilbao and Huesca not even so much as drawing against Valencia in a tight relegation battle. Only Eibar have sealed their fate as a second division team next year.

The tension for Atlético fans could ebb and flow on matchday depending not only on the team’s performance in Valladolid but how Real Madrid fare against a traveling Villareal.

“We always look to immerse ourselves in what is happening to us. Our game is the only thing we care about, the only thing we are responsible for,” Simeone said.

Villareal will have at least one eye on their Europa League final against Manchester United next week but can’t afford to lose focus in Madrid on Saturday, where three points could secure them a berth in the same competition next year depending on how Real Betis and Real Sociedad perform.

Real Madrid managed to turn an underwhelming season around, closing the gap on Atlético in the second half of the season.

“I have a lot of love for my players,” manager Zinedine Zidane told a press conference Friday. “They always give everything in each game. I will always be grateful to them.”

Although he swerved journalists’ questions on whether he would stay on as Real Madrid’s manager next season, he did thank the club and its supporters.

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