Vicente del Bosque believes that Atlético Madrid have a real chance of ending their curse in the Madrid derby and beating Real Madrid away from home in ten days time on Saturday 1 December.
The Spain coach attended the opening of a sports centre for mentally disabled people in the outskirts of Madrid, which is named after him.
Asked if Atlético could get their first win against 'Los Blancos' in over 13 years when they meet at the Santiago Bernabéu, Del Bosque said:
"I think this Atlético side deserve to be taken seriously. They are playing like a true team and they have a real chance of winning in the Bernabéu.
"The rise of Atlético has really strengthened our league. We obviously have two huge clubs, Madrid and Barcelona, but Atlético are up there with them at the moment and you have to applaud them for what they have been doing recently, not just winning European titles, but for their performances in the league too.
"With the consistency they have been showing, Atleti are another alternative. It's impossible to know if they can keep it up until the end of the season, but for now they are up there.
"We can only talk about what has happened because in football it's very difficult to talk about what's going to happen. But what Atleti have achieved up to now this season is very commendable."
"Benitez will be good for Torres"
Del Bosque also spoke about his former club Real Madrid, who he thought "were always in control" against Manchester City on Wednesday, but "should have finished the game off".
He added that he was delighted that all four Spanish teams had qualified for the last 16 of the Champions League, and said it showed that Spanish clubs were among the best in Europe, and also welcomed the return of Rafa Benítez, the new Chelsea coach, to football management, believing it would have a positive impact on Spain striker Fernando Torres.
"He's a coach from our country that has done extraordinarily well abroad. He had five fantastic years in the Premier League, he's raised the reputation of Spanish coaches around the world and now he's been picked up by a huge club.
"I'm sure Rafa going to Chelsea will be good for Fernando Torres, and Benítez will already know at least one of his players well."