Atletico Madrid vs Levante preview - Garcia: Atletico clash is pivotal

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Posted Sunday, April 24, 2011 by PA

Levante coach Luis Garcia believes this weekend's clash with Atletico Madrid will determine whether his in-form side can challenge for a Europa League place over the final weeks of the campaign.

In what has been one of the success stories of the Primera Division season, Levante have gone from being relegation probables to European possibles in less than three months.

The promoted side were propping up the standings after losing 4-1 to Sevilla in late January, but since that loss they have racked up eight wins in 12 games, with their only defeat coming away to Real Madrid.

That stunning form has rocketed Levante up to ninth spot, and they are now within four points of sixth-placed Atletico and the Europa League berths.

Looking ahead to the trip to the Vicente Calderon, Garcia said: "This game is going to mark what we are going to fight for until the end of the season. If it is to fight for survival and we achieve it, we will be happy and celebrate it.

"But if we win (against Atletico) and can then aspire to something more, it would be an unforgettable season."

He continued: "If we lose, there will be five games left to secure our safety. Atletico will be seven points clear and we won't be able to aspire to anything else.

"A win or draw would all but keep us up and then you're left with the hope of achieving something that would be incredible, like being in the Europa League."

Unlike Levante, Atletico were expected to be battling for a European spot come the end of the season - and in their case it was for a Champions League berth.

That now looks to be beyond the Rojiblancos though, with last weekend's draw at Espanyol leaving them 11 points behind fourth-placed Villarreal.

Atletico still have plenty of work to do even to secure a Europa League berth as well, with the four teams from fifth spot to eighth just three points apart.

Defender Tomas Ujfalusi said: "We can't think about what we've done in previous matches. I think that earning a point at Espanyol isn't bad, but now we have to win at home.

"I don't want to think about anything other than beating Levante. We have six matches left and we're going to try and get as many points as we can to get where we want to be."

"Levante are in very good form, they are earning points and are in a position that nobody expected them to be in. (But) we have to win because we're playing at home."

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