Diego Simeone says Atletico Madrid are closer to rivals Real Madrid following the sale of Cristiano Ronaldo.
Madrid won the Champions League for a third straight year in 2017-18 with Ronaldo once again the driving force in that triumph with 15 goals in the tournament.
But the Portugal captain left LaLiga in a sensational €112million switch to Juventus in July following nine trophy and goal-laden seasons at the Santiago Bernabeu.
And Simeone believes his team, who finished above Madrid in LaLiga last term and defeated Los Blancos in August's UEFA Super Cup, are now on a more level playing field with their city rivals.
"From the results we aren't worse than Madrid or Barca, from the individual characteristics of our players, yes," he said in an interview with El Partidazo de COPE.
"Without Cristiano we have approached Real Madrid level, for sure."