Atletico Madrid work harder than anyone, says Juanfran

The defender is confident his side will enjoy "an incredible end to the season" as they prepare for their Champions League quarter-final second leg
Atletico Madrid defender Juanfran says his side are able to challenge for top honours this season because their work-rate is stronger than that of any other side.

Diego Simeone's side are currently one point clear of Barcelona at the top of La Liga following their 1-0 win over Villarreal at the weekend and will host the Blaugrana in their Champions League quarter-final second leg on Wednesday following a 1-1 draw at Camp Nou.

Juanfran believes his side are overcoming fatigue due to their indomitable hard work on the pitch and is confident they will enjoy a special end to the current campaign.

"By the end of the season we will be better than we were on Saturday, with more hope," he told Mundo Deportivo. "I am convinced that we will have an incredible end to the season.

"Villarreal was a very hard and difficult game. We put in great effort against Barcelona and on Saturday we had to do it again.

"We noticed tiredness in some phases of matches but we make up for it with enthusiasm and heart, and this team has a lot of heart. We defend the points we have with all we have, with a great deal of effort.

"We showed at the weekend that we are a great team. I don't know if we're the best team but we run the most and work the most.

"We need the support of our fans. They can see that we left everything on every ball and we have the same goal as they do: to achieve great things."

Juanfran was also quick to praise Saturday's matchwinner Raul Garcia, as well some of the squad players who stepped into the side after their gruelling encounter at Camp Nou.

"He [Garcia] is one of the captains and very important for the team," he added.

"But it's not only Raul. There's also Guaje [David Villa], Diego Ribas and Adrian [Lopez], who came in on Saturday after so long without playing and gave everything."