Caminero delighted with Simeone
Atletico Madrid sporting director Jose Luis Caminero has hailed the confidence instilled in the team by new coach Diego Simeone.
The Argentinian has steered Atletico to three straight wins and a fourth, over third-placed Valencia on Sunday night, will leave the Rojiblancos just four points behind them.
Caminero has witnessed a change in attitude since the return of Simeone to the Vicente Calderon stadium, and is happy to claim at least a portion of the credit for the appointment.
He told sports daily newspaper AS: "If we win we are all happy - the players, the fans, the media. Everyone is very excited now. The results change everything. El Cholo (Simeone) has already been a champion in Argentina (with Estudiantes) and his approach to football matches ours.
"He has already said that if a player is at Atletico, it is because they cannot be a bad player and I think the same way. El Cholo has 'Rojiblanco' spirit."
Asked if it was true he had suggested bringing in Simeone, Caminero added: "It is. I thought Diego was a person who could lead a change in the team.
"He has a different way of understanding the game and is a coach who will give much confidence to each player. I trust his work ethic."
Atletico's city rivals Real Madrid make the short trip to the suburbs to face Getafe on Saturday evening hoping to maintain their seven-point lead over Barcelona, who host Real Sociedad later the same night.
Real Madrid midfielder Esteban Granero, a former Getafe player, is confident coach Jose Mourinho will not allow any complacency to creep in to the leaders' play.
"The cushion we have in La Liga will not be a reason for us to relax," he told Real Madrid's website.
"We know we still have to play practically the entirety of the second half of the season and many of our games will be like finals. The one in Getafe will be the first and we cannot afford to drop points anywhere. You win the title by winning every game.
"Mourinho connects with his players in a special way. He manages to have a tight bond with his players with great ease thanks to his character, demeanour and way of treating us. I don't know how he does it, but he always manages to keep us in top form, focused and in full support of him so that we all row in the same direction."
Barca midfielder Thiago Alcantara has backed his team-mates to reel in Real, and told a press conference: "This team has shown many things during the last few seasons, and it's clear that we can catch up, but we have to consider the challenges gradually and give importance to every game."
Elsewhere on Saturday, Real Mallorca host Real Betis, fourth-placed Levante aim to end a five-match winless league run at home to Racing Santander and Espanyol travel to San Mames to face Athletic Bilbao.
Sporting Gijon begin life without coach Manuel Preciado, sacked earlier this week, when they host Osasuna in Sunday's early kick-off, while bottom side Real Zaragoza take on Rayo Vallecano at La Romareda.
Sevilla, without a win in six La Liga games, welcome third-bottom Villarreal to the Sanchez-Pizjuan stadium.