La Liga

Rayo Vallecano v Atletico Madrid: Levante hero Thomas wants cup fight to continue

Thomas Partey is eager for Atletico Madrid to keep up their fight for success on all fronts when they take on Rayo Vallecano in Wednesday’s Copa del Rey last-16 first leg.

The 22-year-old struck the only goal of the game as Diego Simeone’s side beat bottom-club Levante to move top of La Liga on Saturday.

With Atleti now ahead of champions Barcelona – though having played a game more – and through to the Champions League knockout rounds, tentative talk of a treble tilt has begun to surface among supporters in the Spanish capital.

But Thomas is keen no to look too far ahead and is determined to put sole focus on securing a first-leg advantage against their city rivals.

“We’re just thinking about the next game against Rayo in the Copa del Rey. That’s the most important thing for the team,” he told Atletico’s official website.

“We have to fight to get the team as far as possible in every competition we play.”

Atletico only narrowly saw off Reus in the last-32, but their 2-0 Liga victory at Vallecas just last week will give them confidence of another positive result.

The 2013 winners have also been boosted by the January arrivals of Augusto Fernandez and Matias Kranevitter, both of whom could make their debuts in Wednesday’s clash.

Rayo enter the clash with their own confidence at a low ebb after they squandered the lead twice to draw 2-2 with Real Sociedad at the weekend, prompting head coach Paco Jemez to claim they will be fortunate to escape relegation if they do not improve their defending.

“Everyone is responsible for the team’s decline, first of all me. We can’t be conceding goals as we are,” said Jemez, whose side shipped 10 against Real Madrid last month and have not kept a clean sheet in their last six outings.

“It’s a haemorrhage we’re bleeding from. Our defensive capability is suited to the wrong division.”

Patrick Ebert (Achilles) and goalkeeping duo Tono (knee) and David Corbeno (back) remain sidelined with long-term injuries, but Tiago (broken leg) is Atletico’s only injury absentee.

Rayo’s last victory against their neighbours came in February 2013, while they have only scored once in their last three meetings.

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