Diego Simeone has warned Barcelona that Atletico Madrid will not give up the fight for the LaLiga title following their 4-0 defeat of Deportivo Alaves.
Atleti closed the gap to the leaders back to 10 points with an emphatic win at Mendizorroza, after Barca had beaten Espanyol 2-0 earlier on Saturday.
Simeone's side suffered chastening defeats to Juventus in the Champions League and Athletic Bilbao in the league before the international break, but they swept aside top-four candidates Alaves in style thanks to goals from Saul Niguez, Diego Costa, Alvaro Morata and Thomas Partey.
And Simeone insists they still believe in their title chances, with the top-two meeting at Camp Nou next Saturday.
"What was most pleasing was they understood where we could hurt the opposition the most," he said after the win at Alaves. "We aim to harm the opposition and not take long to create dangerous passes. We had to play quickly.
"In principle, the players needed a game like that, at a stadium where the opponents compete well. The conviction and the way we won makes us very happy.
"We can't lose sight of the fact that, at any point in LaLiga, competing is in our nature. And we want to compete for LaLiga until our last breath."
Thomas capped the win with a spectacular strike six minute from time, which earned applause from the Alaves fans who stayed until the end.
"He did a great job," Simeone said of the midfielder. "He has so much ability and he still has things to improve. The pleasure of a stadium applauding him will stay with him, and that's something to appreciate."