Real Madrid must improve to match Atletico Madrid and Barcelona, says John Toshack

Last Updated: 20/01/14 1:07pm

Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are a level above 'disappointing' Real Madrid, John Toshack told Revista de La Liga.

Carlo Ancelotti's men capitalised on Barcelona and Atletico's 0-0 draw to close the gap on La Liga's top two to three points on Sunday, but Toshack says Real are still some way off the pace.

"There was a lack of desire and cohesion from Real Madrid."

John Toshack

"Barcelona and Atletico Madrid are a step above them at the moment," said the former Real boss.

"I thoroughly enjoyed the Atletico-Barcelona game; I thought it was very intense and the concentration levels - particularly of the Barcelona back four, who haven't always been up to it and have made mistakes - were spot on.

"When we saw the game the following day, Real Madrid at Espanyol, for me there's a big difference. There seemed to be a lack of interest from Real.

"If you'd asked them what result they'd have wanted in the Atletico Madrid v Barcelona game they would have said a draw, so before they went out they got the result they would have wanted and you'd have thought they'd have been motivated.

"If you win 5-0, 6-0 or 1-0, you only get three points but I was disappointed because I thought they would show a lot more enthusiasm and 'go' about them against Espanyol, who aren't a side to be reckoned with.

"There was a lack of desire, cohesion and they're disappointing me at the moment."

Fight

Toshack had plenty of praise for Diego Simeone's Atletico side, however.

Los Rojiblancos surprised many with their superb first half to the season and although plenty of pundits suspect they'll fall away in 2014, Toshack insists Simeone won't allow their title challenge to falter without a fight.

"Atletico are having a fantastic time of it under Simeone," he said. "Whether or not they can keep it going until the end of the season we don't know but they say success breeds success.

LA LIGA

1. Barcelona - 50pts
2. Atletico Madrid - 50pts
3. Real Madrid - 47pts

"At the moment, the way Simeone has got them playing and working for each other, they're very difficult to beat, while their man up front, Diego Costa, is a revelation.

"They're not going to be pushed down easily. As Fergie [Sir Alex Ferguson] would say, they are noisy neighbours for Real Madrid."

Guillem Balague, meanwhile, says Atletico's improvement this term has caused concern at Barcelona, who, on reflection, fear failing to secure victory at the Vicente Calderon could come back to haunt them.

"After the game Barca felt, 'this is fine, we got a point against a difficult side and we did what we were asked to do'," said Balague.

"But then a day later they kind of realised 'oh, we haven't beaten Atletico Madrid in the three times we've tried and Real Madrid are now three points behind us'.

"They could have pushed themselves a little further to get the three points."