Atletico Madrid enjoyed one of the finest European nights in their history on Tuesday as they destroyed seven-time European Cup winners AC Milan 4-1 at the Vicente Calderon to advance to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
- Related Content
However, they must now put their euphoria to one side as they return to domestic action with the visit of Espanyol on Saturday.
Diego Simeone's side moved ahead of Barcelona and into second place in the Primera Division with last weekend's hard-fought win at Celta Vigo and have to beat Espanyol if they are to stay in touch with league leaders and local rivals Real Madrid.
While Simeone has insisted throughout the season that his team cannot compete with the might of Barcelona and Real, club captain Gabi has admitted belief among the squad that they can indeed topple Spain's big two clubs is growing with every victory.
"The season is drawing to a close and we are getting more hopeful, just like our fans are, and we're going to keep fighting until the end," the midfielder told reporters.
"Atletico have made an incredible effort, from the players to the coaching staff, to fight with the most powerful teams in the league, and now we've managed to do that we want to keep fighting with them until the end of the season.
"Without a doubt this is a vital moment in the season, with just a few games left. The league will be won and lost from here until the end of the season and we will fight to make it to the top."
Espanyol became the first team to beat Atletico this season and former Rojiblanco player Simao Sabrosa has little doubt about the best way to overcome them again.
"The way to stop Atleti is to match them in intensity, and the only way to do that is play at 200 per cent and not allow their midfielders time to think," he told a press conference.
"They are a team of lions and we need to go into the game with the same desire. We are a team of warriors and only after the game will we be able to say which was the better team. We are motivated and hopeful of being able to put in a good performance."
No side has managed to beat Atletico at the Calderon in the league this season, but Espanyol have a habit of doing away with other team's records, becoming the first club to beat Athletic Bilbao at their new stadium back in February.
And Simao insisted his side will not be intimidated by the atmosphere inside the Calderon, adding: "We have no fear. You can never go on to a football pitch scared, you may as well stay in the dressing room. You can't fear anyone."
Atletico will have to make do without centre-back Joao Miranda and midfielder Mario Suarez, who are both suspended, while Espanyol coach Javier Aguirre has a full squad to work with.