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Real Madrid handled Ronaldo exit ‘very well’ – Simeone

Form is irrelevant in the Madrid derby, according to Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone, who backed Diego Costa to shine for his side.

Diego Simeone believes Real Madrid have handled the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo “very well” despite slipping to a 3-0 defeat against Sevilla ahead of their clash with his Atletico Madrid side.

Los Blancos suffered their first LaLiga defeat of the season at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on Wednesday, conceding three first-half goals without reply to bring a run of four wins from five league matches to an end.

The result means Simeone’s side, who beat Huesca 3-0 on Tuesday, go into the Madrid derby on Saturday evening just two points behind their rivals, and the Atleti coach expects a difficult game against Julen Lopetegui’s new-look team.

Lopetegui has utilised Isco, Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale and Marco Asensio in attack in recent weeks, and Simeone said he felt Madrid have maintained their “vertical” style of football in the wake of Ronaldo’s €100million transfer to Juventus in the close season.

“Apart from their last game, where they faced a complicated opponent in Sevilla, who are not easy to compete against, I see a vertical Madrid,” Simeone told reporters.

“Asensio and Bale have a change of pace, [Toni] Kroos, [Luka] Modric and [Sergio] Ramos have good vision of the game and they combine well with [Dani] Ceballos and Isco.

“Ronaldo’s absence has been handled very well by Madrid. On the other hand, I do not give importance to the form of each team.”

Simeone also backed misfiring striker Diego Costa ahead of the trip to Santiago Bernabeu, praising the 29-year-old’s contribution against Huesca.

Costa scored twice in Atletico’s 4-2 victory over Madrid in the Super Cup in August but he has failed to find the net in LaLiga this season.

Simeone said: “He’s fantastic. In my view, he played a very good match, he participated in the first goal of the team, he moved.

“He is physically strong and he will have a great match.

“The team is improving and also the individualities. The important individuals are growing. It will be hard, complicated, like every game against Real Madrid.

“They are matches of men, of emotions and those that can handle those emotions are the ones that end up rising to the challenge of those matches.”

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