By Martin Langer
Radamel Falcao has stoked the fires ahead of this weekend's Madrid derby as he aims to further upset the reigning La Liga champion's title defence and continue his imperious form for Atletico.
The 26-year-old has already scored 14 times for Diego Simeone's team, leaving them second in La Liga, just three points behind Barcelona and eight ahead of rivals Real Madrid.
With a third of the season complete, Atletico have managed to upset the balance, something Falcao hopes can be maintained to the end of the campaign.
"To finish above our main opponent [Real Madrid] would be quite significant for everyone,” he told Goal.com. “Our fans would be delighted if we managed to do so this season. However, as players we don’t have this as our target. We want to top La Liga but we don’t look at Real Madrid or ourselves, we just think about the next game.
"It's my dream to have a good campaign. A positive start is important to keep our level throughout the season and to fight for the top spots in the table. My dream for this season was for Atletico to be stronger and more solid in order to achieve consistent good results.
"We are just three points from the top of the table, fighting and trying to hold on to a Champions League spot. We want to keep this place in the table. We’ll try to remain where we are so if one of the big teams slips up we can profit. After that we will see if we can fight for the title, second or third place. We want to remain where we are now.”
As such, Falcao was quick to play down the importance of the Madrid derby, suggesting the whole campaign should be a barometer for their success, adding: "Theoretically our fight is not against Real Madrid or Barcelona.
"Our task is to think about the next fixture and try to win. Winning allows us to pick up points and remain close to the major teams in Spain. We must collect as many points as possible. Then the games back to back with Real Madrid and Barcelona could define our season in La Liga.
"It's important to win every game aside from the Barcelona and Real Madrid games because there are many points at stake. If you don’t win those games you’ll drop points and lose touch with the top sides in the table."
After winning the Europa League last season – Falcao's second consecutive victory in that competition – and adding the European Super Cup in August, he is determined to add more silverware to his ever expanding cabinet. And with Simeone at the helm, the striker believes it is a realistic aim.
"Since Diego Pablo Simeone's arrival there has been a change in the mentality," he explained. "The club is also making an effort to be more competitive and assertive in domestic competitions. I hope this change pays dividends in a short term.
"The team would love to win trophies. We would like to win at least one of the competitions we're playing in. We're working hard to hit this target and I hope at the end of the season we can celebrate a title."
Falcao made his professional debut as a 13-year-old in Colombia before embarking on a career that has seen him plunder goals in Argentina, Portugal and Spain.
Now in the Spanish capital, his latest achievement, though minor, was breaking a rare goalscoring drought as he tucked home a penalty in a 4-0 rout of Sevilla this past weekend.
And asked who he admired as a young professional, Falcao pointed to a former Real Madrid superstar.
"That player would be the Brazilian Ronaldo," he told stated. "I admired many players from that era, but Ronaldo Luiz embodied the kind of striker I wanted to be.
"Ronaldo, Messi, Iniesta and these kind of players. My taste wouldn't change if I weren't a professional player."
Falcao also explained that working alongside Chile's Marcelo Salas helped him grow following his move to Argentina as a teenager.
He added: "We both played for River Plate at the same time. For him it was the end of his career, but you could tell how different he was. You could easily notice his quality as a striker. He shone over all of us."
Radamel Falcao was speaking as an ambassador of Western Union's PASS scheme which will run for three years with a goal of raising a million school days for children whose schooling has otherwise been compromised.