The Argentine is trying to stay optimistic about his side’s title chances after another damaging setback on Sunday evening
Atletico Madrid’s poor form isn’t “down to nerves” according to Diego Simeone, who has urged the Liga leaders to “up the intensity” after their loss to Sevilla.
Los Rojiblancos suffered their third league defeat of the season at the hands of Sevilla on Sunday, with a Marcos Acuna goal giving Julen Lopetegui’s side a 1-0 victory.
Atletico are now just three points clear of second-placed Real Madrid with eight games remaining, and Simeone has issued a rallying cry after seeing his team’s latest underwhelming display.
What’s been said?
“I’m sure I know the way and I’m not afraid of anything,” the Argentine boss told reporters. “This isn’t happening because of nerves. Being able to play better, being a strong unit, I don’t think it’s down to nerves.”
Simeone added: “We have to keep working and up the intensity, that’s what gave us more of a chance [in the first place] aside from talent. I’m not budging on anything, but we have to accept we’re in bad form. The Spanish league is tough until the end in every title race.
“There are usually only two teams [competing], as well as us in 2014 or 2017, but it was always a two-horse race. Now we’re competing, more for bad than for good in recent times.
“We have to find a way for the boys to be as good as they were in the first half of the season.”
How did Sevilla beat Atletico?
Sevilla took the game to Atletico right from the first whistle at Ramon Sanchez-Pizjuan, and almost took the lead with just eight minutes on the clock when they were awarded a penalty.
Jan Oblak came to the visitors’ rescue with an expert save to deny Lucas Ocampos from 12 yards, with Joan Jordan hitting the bar moments later as the hosts continued to press forward.
Sevilla eventually got the goal they deserved in the 70th minute when Acuna headed in a pinpoint Jesus Navas cross, and the goal stood despite Atletico’s protests that the defender handled the ball earlier in the move.
Mario Hermoso and Angel Correa were guilty of squandering late chances as Simeone’s team tried to get back in the game, with Sevilla ultimately holding out for a win which saw them move to within four points of third-placed Barcelona.
The state of play in La Liga
Atletico had a ten-point lead at the La Liga summit in January, but that gap will have been reduced down to just a single point if Barca beat Real Valladollid at Camp Nou on Monday night.
The Blaugrana will then start preparing for a vital Clasico meeting with Madrid at Santiago Bernabeu on April 10, with Atletico due to travel to Real Betis a day later.