Real Madrid are better – Simeone goads Barca ahead of Atletico clash
Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone is expecting a tough test against Barcelona on Saturday, even if he believes rivals Real Madrid are the better side.
Barca lead LaLiga by five points after just seven games, with champions Madrid trailing Atleti in fifth place.
But Simeone, while praising Barca's work in adapting to the loss of Neymar, still sees Zinedine Zidane's men as the best team in the world.
"Barcelona are one of the best teams in the world, but Real Madrid are better now," he told a pre-match news conference.
"[Barca] have reinvented themselves after the departure of Neymar. They do not stop wanting to win. They have a winning gene. They do not get tired."
Atleti have not beaten the Catalan club in any of their last 14 league games - a run stretching back to February 2010, prior to Simeone's appointment.
"We have not beaten them in the league," he said. "We tied the most important one that was the one that gave us LaLiga [in 2013-14] and we have knocked them out twice in the Champions League.
"They always scored more than us. They did not beat us by chance. They are very good. We have been more forceful in the Champions League. Let's hope we can end that run in LaLiga."
Atleti headed into the international break with two difficult results - losing at home to Chelsea and drawing with Leganes - but Simeone is only focused on the coming matches.
"We tied with Leganes and Chelsea beat us well, but we think with optimism," he added. "We are preparing to bring the game we want to play."