Pressure mounting on stuttering table-toppers Atletico Madrid

After yesterday's Champions League exit to Chelsea, Atletico is now at risk of losing its spot on the top of the league table due to its below average performances.

Atletico Madrid's head coach Diego Simeone gestures during the Champions League, round of 16, second leg football match between Chelsea and Atletico Madrid at the Stamford Bridge stadium, London, Wednesday, March 17, 2021.   -  AP

The pressure is mounting on La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid as it continues to stutter in its quest for a first domestic league title since 2014.

Diego Simeone's side has won just two of its last five Liga fixtures, seeing its 10-point lead slashed to four by second-placed Barcelona and six by Real Madrid in third.

The team’s disappointing form continued on Wednesday as it crashed out of the Champions League in the last-16 after a 2-0 defeat at Chelsea to depart 3-0 on aggregate.

Simeone said that far from allowing his side to concentrate solely on its domestic title bid, the exit was a blow.

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"I always think you want to be winning games, going through to the latter stages of such great competitions," he told a news conference ahead of Sunday's visit to lowly Alaves.

"The Champions League was really tough for us this season.

"We need to learn from this, improve and reset on Thursday in order to be back at it on Friday raring to go and ready to play each remaining game we've got with all we can."

If Atletico is to kick on and bounce back with a league triumph, Simeone will need to arrest his team’s decline since the onset of this year.

As of now, Simeone’s men has won eight of 16 games, keeping only three clean sheets in 2021.

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Hot on its heels is Barcelona, which travels to the fifth-placed Real Sociedad on Sunday.

The Catalans will look to build on the new-found feel-good factor at the club after Joan Laporta was elected as president.

Lionel Messi's recent upturn in form, which has seen him score 10 times in his last nine games in all competitions, means Barcelona is well-placed to capitalise on any Atletico slip-up.

On Saturday, Real Madrid travels to mid-table Celta Vigo as the defending champion looks to remain in the title mix on a day that also sees Athletic Bilbao face second-bottom side Eibar in a Basque derby.

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