BELO HORIZONTE, Jan. 18 (Xinhua) -- Atletico Mineiro manager Jorge Sampaoli has refused to say whether his side can challenge for the Brazilian Serie A title as the season draws to a thrilling close.
The Belo Horizonte giants are third in the 20-team league standings with nine matches remaining, four points behind leaders Sao Paulo but with a game in hand.
"It depends on Atletico and the strength and the ambition that this challenge can give us," Sampaoli told reporters.
"I can't really really say for sure what will happen. Every game and every situation is going to have a high level of intensity and pressure. We have to be distant to whatever comments made, positive or negative, that could distract us. We have hard to work and concentrate on every match," added the former head coach of the Chile and Argentina national teams.
This year's Brazilian Serie A title dispute is one of the closest in the competition's history, with only eight points separate the top six teams.
Altetico will visit Porto Alegre for a clash with fellow contenders Gremio on Wednesday and will then travel to Rio de Janeiro to face Vasco da Gama next Saturday.
They will finish their campaign with matches against Santos (home), Fortaleza (home), Goias (away), Fluminense (away), Bahia (home), Sport (away) and Palmeiras (home).
Sampaoli took over from Rafael Dudamel as Atletico's head coach last March, having parted ways with Santos at the end of 2019.