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Dec 17, 2012

Simeone: Barca make this league 'boring'

Diego Simeone believes Barcelona are making the La Liga title race "boring" after Atletico Madrid suffered a 4-1 defeat at the Camp Nou on Sunday.

• Blog: Barca take off

A Lionel Messi brace and goals to Adriano and Sergio Busquets cancelled out Radamel Falcao's opener for the visitors and Simeone conceded that his side were simply outplayed, although they fought for a result from the opening whistle.

"Our team is a strong team, we know how to play," the Atletico boss said. "With our weapons we try to be competitive. And today for a long time were. We put in an enormous effort, we showed our souls. We lost to a team who plays in a different league than ours. They are making this a boring league.

"We played a perfect first half when we had three clear chances to score. We closed off all the paths where they could hurt us, then they scored from their first shot. The game was decided by them taking their chances."

Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has been cautious about his side's title hopes this season, despite the club's best ever start to a season with 15 wins and one draw from the opening 16 rounds.

He once again insisted that Barca cannot become too complacent, citing the anxious ending to his side's 2009/10 title win as a warning sign.

"I have the luck of having a similar experience before," he said. "We were 11 points ahead of Madrid, but then we had to go to Bernabeu to win the title. Also, Atletico are only nine points behind, and they showed how well they can play. We need to include them in the reckoning.

"Many times we have won right at the end, having suffered during the game. We have not been picking up points easily, we could have dropped more points. The league does not seem easy to me, quite the opposite."

Striker David Villa was once again forced to make an appearance from the bench as replaced Pedro in the 80th minute.

Villa's frustration at a lack of starting opportunities since he returned from injury is gradually becoming apparent, but Vilanova believes the Spaniard should expect to fight for his position in a competitive squad.

"For a player of such a high level [like Villa], it is not easy, but we have lots of players like that in this squad," Vilanova said. "Alves and Mascherano were on the bench today too. Alexis did very good work. We do not just judge on scoring goals, but on all their work in the game, offensively and defensively."

Barcelona defender Gerard Pique was much more confident than Vilanova when asked about his side's title credentials, acknowledging that they are in the box seat to become Spanish champions.

"La Liga is only ours to lose," he told AS. "We're in a very favourable position, but we cannot lose a game. If we relax, the danger is that we go into a run where we don't win two or three games and lose our advantage.

"If we lose a game, nothing happens, but we cannot lose a game. We're having a great season. It's something else to watch my team-mates."

Pique conceded that Barca were tested early and were fortunate to take a slender lead into the break with Falcao creating a number of chances on goal.

"The first half took it out of us," he said. "Adriano's goal gave us a lot. We had a very good game against a great team who are second. [Falcao] is a great player - he's having a great season. He runs a lot, so you have to be wary. He's very difficult on the field."

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