MADRID, March 1 (Xinhua) -- Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone has looked to shrug off the banner of favorites for the Madrid derby in the Vicente Calderon Stadium on Sunday.
A win for Atletico would lift them back above their neighbors, while defeat would see Real Madrid open up a six point lead over Atletico and virtually rule them out of the title race.
Meanwhile Real Madrid will travel across town after winning both legs of the recent Copa del Rey semifinal between the two teams, although Atletico did beat Real Madrid 1-0 in the Santiago Bernabeu earlier this season.
In terms of form, Real Madrid visit the Calderon on the back of a 6-1 thrashing of Schalke 04 in the Champions League, while last weekend saw Atletico lose 3-0 away to Osasuna.
"The team that is leader in the league is the favorite to win; that is logical because the side that is first is the best. So the game means we are waiting for the best team, we need to make the best effort and hope for the result," said Simeone, who added that Real Madrid were in their best form of the season.
"They played very well in midweek and they come to the Calderon on the back of a great result and as a side that's feared in all of Europe," he added.
Simeone highlighted that Real Madrid had great individual players but that the team was well balanced and intense in their football. "They have improved enormously between November and December," said the Atletico coach, who did have a warning for Real.
"We played badly in Pamplona but you always hope to rediscover your form after a defeat. We have had a week to work hard and after the pain has gone, the hope and enthusiasm returns."
"When the season started we always hoped to get to March just three points off the lead and we are now in that position," he concluded.
Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti was willing to accept the billing as favorites for the game, but warned his side would have to dig deep to take all three points.
"It's normal to feel pressure ahead of a game like this. We're three points clear and so, in a sense, we are favorites but Atletico have an advantage because they're playing at the Calderon. We all know how their fans get behind them at home," said the Italian.
"We have to play to at or best in both attack and defence and play with courage and personality. To win, we need to be better than Atletico in everything," he added, who said that although a win would lift his side six points clear of Atletico, it would not be definitive in the title race.