Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink has praised Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone for turning them into title contenders.
Simeone has been the architect of significant progress since taking over at the Vicente Calderon in 2011, guiding the club to fifth and third in La Liga, while also lifting the UEFA Europa League and the Copa del Rey.
When Hasselbaink played for Atleti they were relegated from the top flight and he is impressed with the changes that have taken place in the years since.
Atleti now sit top of the table with seven games to go and are in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League, and Hasselbaink, who spent a season at the club from 1999-2000, believes Simeone is the catalyst for their success.
"He has given them a style that (means) they can compete with the big teams," the Royal Antwerp manager told Perform.
"Ok, it's not as flamboyant as the others but it's working, it's competitive, he's getting results and they're hard to beat.
"This year he has taken them to the top with good football, the organisation is really good, (the) understanding between the players (is good), the togetherness, the fight.
"I am very impressed."
The emergence of Diego Costa, who has scored 25 league goals this season, has given Atleti a focal point within the team and Hasselbaink feels Simeone's tactical plans have worked perfectly to get the best out of his squad.
"What he's brought is a system, a way of working where everyone knows what he wants, he gets them to play in a way that everyone is comfortable," he continued.
"They know who their star player is, they are all happy with their star player, and give him the best possible chance to score.
"And they don't concede goals because they work really hard for each other when they don't have the ball.
"He's lucky he's not the favourite, and he doesn't have to do it in the style as the other two (Real Madrid and Barcelona) have to do it so those are his benefits."
Costa limped out of Tuesday's 1-1 UEFA Champions League draw with Barcelona after suffering a hamstring injury and is facing a spell on the sidelines.
Hasselbaink believes it is imperative Atleti adapt quickly if they want to stay in the hunt for a first title since 1996.
"I think it's a big impact (Costa's injury) because he's their star player," he added. "They play a way to suit him, on the counter-attack, so they will need to adjust playing style a bit."
|Valverde fumes over ´absurd´ lack of VAR in LaLiga|
|Conte rails against Chelsea exit rumours|
|Arnold backed for Socceroos job as Ryan pays tribute to Postecoglou|
|I´m happy playing for Lazio, says Man United target Milinkovic-Savic|
|Klopp dislikes ´Fab Four´ nickname|
|Ronaldo a legend, one of best ever – Ramos|
|Kaka Retires: The last member of Brazil´s 2002 World Cup-winning team|
|Barcelona won´t give Real Madrid a guard of honour – Amor|
|Valverde adamant Clasico won´t decide LaLiga|
|Barcelona could have held Griezmann talks, says Amor|
|There are other challengers - Suarez tempers Clasico fever|
|Pre-season win over Spurs key to City´s season, Guardiola claims|
|Juventus still monitoring Liverpool´s Can - Marotta|
|Griezmann apologises for ´awkward´ fancy dress|
|Barcelona lose Alcacer for El Clasico|
|Barcelona 4 Deportivo La Coruna 0: Suarez, Paulinho at the double in Clasico warm-up|
|Griezmann attracts criticism for ´racist´ fancy dress|
|Klopp calls for Liverpool consistency after Bournemouth battering|
|Coutinho won´t be drawn on Liverpool future|
|Kaka Retires: Ballon d´Or, Milan glory and Brazil brilliance among career highlights|
|Liverpool make top-flight history in Bournemouth victory|
|We can´t think we´re unbeatable - Jesus|
|Lukaku´s love for West Brom behind muted celebration - Mourinho|
|Bournemouth 0 Liverpool 4: Coutinho sparkles as Reds return to winning ways|
|Kaka Retires: Former clubs and team-mates pay tribute|
|Dybala needs to be in better physical shape - Allegri|
|Hearts break spell but Celtic join Milan, Porto among unbeaten elite|
|Juventus allowed Bologna nothing - Pjanic|
|Mourinho: United lost ambition in second-half slump|
|Lingard claiming second goal in Manchester United win|
|Kaka eyes future in the boardroom after resisting Milan swansong|
|West Brom 1 Manchester United 2: Lukaku on target against old club|
|Former AC Milan and Brazil star Kaka announces retirement|
|Bologna 0 Juventus 3: Pjanic, Mandzukic and Matuidi send champions second|
|Feyenoord hit seven against Sparta Rotterdam|
|Gattuso slams ´embarrassing´ Milan after Verona defeat|
|Celtic´s 69-match unbeaten run ends with Hearts thrashing|
|Fekir keen on Barcelona, Real Madrid, Atletico, Manchester City... and Arsenal|
|Mbappe pips Martial to Telefoot Trophy|
|Verona 3 AC Milan 0: Gattuso´s side slip to insipid defeat|
|Man City´s celebrations? You should hear Burnley, says Rooney|
|Rooney wants greedy Rashford, has high hopes for Martial|
|Man City aren´t one of the Premier League´s best ever - Rooney|
|The best answer is laughing - Ronaldo mocks Gremio boss Renato|
|Brisbane Roar 1 Melbourne Victory 2: Williams and Barbarouses boost pre-derby mood|
|Perez keen for ´spectacular´ Ronaldo to never leave Madrid|
|Kroos: Madrid don´t need added motivation for Clasico|
|Howe discussed Liverpool criticism with Begovic|
|Pellegrino: I can´t control Van Dijk future|
|Perez suggests Madrid unlikely to make January moves|
|Liverpool scouts to thank for Salah capture, says Klopp|
|Substitutes made the difference - Simeone|
|Sarri praises ´extraordinary´ Hamsik as Napoli go top of Serie A|
|Mutual trust at Man City is ´a dream´, says Guardiola|
|Stoger´s small changes getting Dortmund back on track|
|Atletico Madrid 1 Alaves 0: Substitute Torres breaks LaLiga duck to net winner|
|City defeat a ´good experience´ for Tottenham - Pochettino|
|Zidane dreaming of sextuple after Club World Cup success|
|Running man De Bruyne makes it easier to manage City - Guardiola|
|Ronaldo and Zidane hoping for Ballon d´Or winner to retire at Madrid|
|Championship Review: Teenage debutant Maja snaps Sunderland´s home drought|
|In-form Neymar is good for all who love football – Emery|
|Napoli´s record goalscorers - how Marek Hamsik compares to Diego Maradona|
|De Bruyne eyes titles over unbeaten season|
|Ninja Turtles invade pitch during PSG clash|
|Muller, Heynckes buoyed by Bayern Munich´s edgy victory|
|I´m confident, but what does that mean? - Wenger gives cryptic answer on Ozil future|
|Real Madrid win five trophies in a calendar year for first time|
|It´s nice to know - Hamsik plays down matching Maradona´s Napoli record|
|Borussia Dortmund 2 Hoffenheim 1: Pulisic late show extends perfect Stoger start|
|Manchester City 4 Tottenham 1: Silva-less City continue to set the gold standard|
|Hughes fumes at Lanzini ´dive´|
|Torino 1 Napoli 3: Historic Hamsik strike sends Sarri´s side top|
|Dyche credits Burnley´s resolve in battling Brighton draw|
|Conte refuses to discuss Chelsea interest in ´really good player´ Van Dijk|
|Real Madrid 1 Gremio 0: Ronaldo free-kick secures Club World Cup glory|
|Silva refuses to question Watford´s attitude amid dismal run|
|Wenger hails Ozil´s decisive ´gem´|
|City´s record run unfairly overshadowing Chelsea form - Conte|
|Murray ´normally very reliable´ from the spot - Hughton|
|Stoke City 0 West Ham 3: Returning Arnautovic has the last laugh|
|Rennes 1 Paris Saint-Germain 4: Two goals, two assists for Neymar|
|Hamsik matches Maradona´s all-time Napoli scoring record|
|Apologetic Spalletti had forgotten losing feeling at Inter|
|We stick to the plan – Valverde not risking Dembele before January|
|Watford 1 Huddersfield Town 4: Deeney sees red as Hornets´ slump continues|
|Chelsea 1 Southampton 0: Alonso extends Blues´ home run|
|Arsenal 1 Newcastle United 0: Ozil stunner sees hosts edge back to winning ways|
|Brighton and Hove Albion 0 Burnley 0: Murray pays the penalty for Seagulls|
|Stuttgart 0 Bayern Munich 1: Ulreich denies former club with last-gasp penalty save|
|Gattuso tries to shrug off Donnarumma, FFP controversies|
|Inter 1 Udinese 3: Leaders leave door open for Napoli as unbeaten run ends|
|Al Jazira 1 Pachuca 4: Jara & Sagal inspire Mexicans to Club World Cup third place|
|Benteke winning over Palace fans after penalty nightmare - Hodgson|
|Allegri defends ´extraordinary´ Dybala after Nedved criticism|
|I didn´t owe Palace team-mates, Benteke claims|
|I´ve never considered leaving PSG, insists Draxler|
|Leicester City 0 Crystal Palace 3: Benteke, Eagles end drought|
|AC Milan´s Fassone requests UEFA help over FFP|
|AC Milan have ´no intention´ of selling Donnarumma|
|A-League Review: Jets keep up pressure, Wanderers get rare win|
|Schalke send Coke on loan to Levante|
|Man Utd´s Matic refuses to concede in Premier League title race|
|Mourinho: I don´t like a circus when you win|
|Keita won´t arrive in January, says Klopp|
|Bring on the noise! Pochettino´s Spurs want to ´kill´ Man City|
|Beat Madrid and PSG can go all the way, Djorkaeff claims|
|Icardi to Real Madrid? Nara will not say yes or no|
|Ronaldo proud to compete with Messi|
|Wenger struggling to solve Arsenal goal drought|
|Pique wants to face Guardiola, City in Champions League final|
|Tevez nearing Boca Juniors return|
|Ronaldo? I was better, says Gremio coach Renato|
|Pique: I understood why Neymar left Barca for PSG|
|Klopp: We´re all fighting for second place|
|Every player has a price – Mourinho hints at January exits|
|Good question! Guardiola ducks Sanchez link and lauds Walker|