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Call to arms: Diego Simeone and Gabi say Atletico Madrid must improve

Atletico’s coach and captain have been urging the squad to shape up with one of the biggest games of their season around the corner

Club Atletico de Madrid v Rayo Vallecano de Madrid - Copa del Rey Round of 16 Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

Atletico Madrid are off to their worst start in La Liga under Diego Simeone. Their fixtures have been tough and they have struggled to break down some resolute defenses but there is little doubt that after the international break, they have to beat Real Madrid.

In order to stand a chance of winning La Liga, the game at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday the 19th of November is a must win. And both Gabi and Diego Simeone have called for an improvement in their performance.

"It is going to be a vital game for us. It is crucial because we cannot let Real Madrid get too far ahead of us in the table," Gabi said.

"We want to be neck and neck with them, but we have to improve if we are to win the derby.”

"We have to go back to being a team which is solid at the back and we all have to do our job to make the team secure.”

"It is a difficult moment for us, the team is used to winning, but we are not playing well and now we have gone two games on the trot losing away from home. Defeats are always negative and more so when they mean you drop places in the table.

"We want to be the best team and for that to happen we have to improve."

Simeone echoes that point

And in that same tone, Simeone said, "I am aware that we have to improve. The truth is our start to the season has not been so good. We must keep improving, keep competing, but we are in the last 16 of the Champions League, with two games still left to play."

Real Madrid were hit with news that Toni Kroos will miss significant time with a broken bone in his foot and Atletico will be hoping to have everyone back to full fitness depending on how Gaitan recovers during the international break.

Competing at the top of La Liga is dfficult and when there are make-or-break games as early as November, you know why.