forward Cristiano Ronaldo and Atletico Madrid defender Miranda fight for possession during their Copa Del Rey semifinal first leg, 5 January. Reuters
Atletico Madrid have had a sooner-we-forget-the-better last couple of games - thumped 3-0 at the Bernabeu by rivals Real Madrid, and then handed a surprise 2-0 defeat by Almeria in La Liga on Saturday.
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Diego Simeone and co. face another stiff test on Tuesday, with Real Madrid, with a 3-0 advantage in hand, visiting the Vicente Calderon for the second leg of their Copa Del Rey semifinal.
"The team is gutted, but you have to raise your head, work harder if possible to remove this slump soon after two matches," Atletico skipper Gabi told the club's official website. "Let's see the power this team has overcome it.
"Now we have to be united more than ever. We have been in a privileged position and we are lucky to still be there and we will fight because this little bad run is costing us points."
Two own goals and a strike from Jese Rodriguez spurred Real to a 3-0 first leg win last week in a terse and physical encounter, and Atletico, without midfielder Tiago, who will undergo surgery on his fractured wrist, know they face a difficult task to turn over the big deficit, with the first goal in the second leg vital to deciding the course of the tie.
Real Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti said the first leg was the best game his side have played all season, and the Italian stressed on the importance of maintaining the same levels of quality for the second leg as well.
"We have a significant advantage but we need to play with the same focus as in the first leg to avoid problems. We shouldn't change our philosophy and we have to play with intensity to have possession. The best thing is to not to think about the lead that we have. It will be difficult because they are a very strong team.
"Matches between two teams from the same city are always more intense than normal. The only thing that we'll talk about in the build-up to the match is about being well-prepared for it and trying to play well both defensively and in attack. It is more important to focus on how we're going to play."
Cristiano Ronaldo returns to the starting lineup for Real, after the Portuguese sat out the 4-2 win over Villarreal through suspension. Ancelotti also revealed he would give Raphael Varane a start at the back, with the in-form Jese likely to return to the bench following the return of Ronaldo and the fit-again Gareth Bale.
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