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Madrid derby could hold key to title

Atletico midfielder Francisco Juanfran claims Wednesday's Madrid derby could prove "decisive" as city rivals Real stumble towards the Spanish league title.

• Casillas: We could lose Liga

Jose Mourinho's side once held a commanding ten-point lead over Barcelona at the top of La Liga but their advantage has been cut to just four points ahead of the trip to Atletico's Vicente Calderon stadium.

Barcelona can reduce that gap to a single point with a win against Getafe on Tuesday night, placing the pressure firmly on Real Madrid with the sides still to meet in El Clasico at the Camp Nou before the end of the season.

Real assistant manager Aitor Karanka insists his side will remain "calm" ahead of Wednesday's derby with Atletico, but Juanfran says the Rojiblancos have "an overwhelming desire" to claim a first victory over their neighbours since 1999 and derail the title bid.

"They are playing for the league. It will be a decisive match for them," Juanfran said. "We expect a very strong Real Madrid.

"We have gone a long time without a win against Real Madrid and are playing in our stadium, in front of our people and we have an overwhelming desire to make a great game and win."

Atletico attacking midfielder Diego is also fired up for the derby and insists his side have absolutely nothing to fear on their home ground.

"We will be facing the best team in the league but we'll go for the win and we'll see what happens," Diego told Radio MARCA.

"Madrid are not invincible, but they are the leaders and you have to respect them. But we must not forget that we are at home and that must motivate us.

"It is clear that going this long without beating Madrid is not normal, but we're not obsessed. We are very motivated and we hope to end the streak."

And Real defender Raul Albiol knows a fiery reception awaits him and his team-mates. "We expect Atletico Madrid to be aggressive and motivated to win. We're going to concentrate hard to take three points," he said.

"We played at home and were expected to win against Valencia. That match was crazy, but we have a four-point lead and that's important. We must now think about Wednesday's match. This week will be tough."


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