Manzano upbeat about Atletico hopes
Atletico Madrid coach Gregorio Manzano is confident his new-look side can challenge the likes of Valencia and Sevilla for a UEFA Champions League berth at the end of the season, despite a stuttering start to the campaign.
After a summer of heavy investment saw players such as Radamel Falcao, Arda Turan and Diego brought to the Vicente Calderon, Atletico have shown glimpses of their potential but also suffered some disappointing setbacks.
They impressed during 4-0 defeats of Racing Santander and Sporting Gijon, but were also held 0-0 at home by Osasuna and have been beaten away by Valencia and Barcelona, with Pep Guardiola's men thrashing Los Rojiblancos 5-0.
Atletico dropped more points in front of their own fans yesterday after playing out a goalless draw with Sevilla, a result that left them six points off the leading teams in La Liga and five points off fourth place.
Nevertheless, Manzano, who felt his side should have beaten the Andalusian club who he left this summer, is optimistic that Atletico can compete with teams such as Sevilla and Valencia as they look to finish in the top four for the first time since 2009.
He said: "It's very equal among the teams who are aspiring to be in the top places, and each game can decided by the smallest details. A 1-0 win [over Sevilla] would have been the fairest result, the same as against Osasuna, and if it had turned out like that we would be near the top."
"There's still a long way to go and I think that Atletico are up there with Valencia and Sevilla in all aspects. We have had good games against them and we can take a good dose of optimism from that.
"Morale is good. The players may be disappointed not to have won a game, but when one gives everything on the field, there is nothing or nobody to blame."