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Simeone reacts to Atletico Madrid’s latest title setback

Diego Simeone, Atletico Madrid
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Atletico Madrid’s hopes of a first La Liga title since 2014 are slowly slipping away after losing even more valuable points over the weekend.

Diego Simeone has urged his players to “up the intensity” after Atletico Madrid’s 1-0 defeat to Sevilla in La Liga on Sunday night.

The Colchoneros were second best in Andalusia and rarely provided any significant threat. Sevilla instead dominated proceedings, defying the tempo and having possession of the ball for large periods.

Despite Jan Oblak saving Lucas Ocampos’ early penalty, Sevilla won 1-0 following a 70th-minute goal from Marcos Acuna.

The outcome means Atletico have dropped points for the sixth time in their last 10 games, having had four draws and two defeats. A seven-point lead, with a two-game advantage, in February has been reduced to a mere three points. If Barcelona beat Real Valladolid on Monday, the Catalan club will be one point behind Simeone’s men.

“I’m sure I know the way and I’m not afraid of anything,” said Simeone as quoted by Marca.

“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.”

Atletico will head back to Seville this Sunday to take on Real Betis for their next La Liga match.