Simeone plays down significance of slump

A goalless draw at Espanyol on Saturday leaves Atletico Madrid fourth in La Liga, but Diego Simeone is not getting too worried just yet.

Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone played down the significance of his side slipping to fourth in La Liga as a result of Saturday's 0-0 draw at Espanyol.

The reigning champions went into the weekend seven points behind pacesetters Barcelona, with a toothless display in the Catalan capital leaving them even further off the pace after Barca's 2-0 win at Eibar in the late game.

Miranda's red card just before the break did not help matters, but Simeone is sticking to his pre-season mantra that his side are simply playing for third, alongside the likes of Sevilla and Valencia.

"I said it [that Atletico are challenging for third] in pre-season," he told reporters. "You see them [Sevilla and Valencia] play - Villarreal too - and they are the best teams [besides Real Madrid and Barcelona], who have been strengthened. 

"And with the fact Valencia has not played in Europe, it is logical for them to compete as they are doing.

"[But] the league is not over yet, so we have not lost third place."

The draw at Cornella-El Prat was Atletico's third in a row in La Liga, following ties with fellow high-flyers Sevilla and Valencia.

But Simeone is not too alarmed at his side's inability to find the net, insisting that it would be more concerning had his men struggled to create chances in general.

"Not finding the goal is costly," he added. "But it would be more disturbing to have no chances. I'm happy with the work of the players. 

"There are moments in the season in which you are not as great as others in front of goal, [but] the team is growing and today was more consistent. 

"I'm happy with the performance. With 10 men in the second half we could have won."