Atletico Madrid under pressure as Real closes gap in title race

Atletico Madrid has won just one of its last four games but captain Koke said if it can remain mentally strong it will be well-placed to hold off its rivals during the run-in.

Diego Simeone's (in pic) Atletico Madrid will be without star forward Luis Suarez, who has a calf problem, for the Eibar La Liga outing on Sunday (File Photo).   -  REUTERS

Atletico Madrid will bid to get its stuttering title challenge back on track when it hosts bottom club Eibar on Sunday.

Atletico held a 10-point lead at the start of February but that advantage over local rival Real Madrid is now just a point, with Barcelona two back in third place, and it can ill-afford any more slip-ups if it is to claim a first La Liga crown since 2014.

Diego Simeone's side has won just one of its last four league games but captain Koke said if it can remain mentally strong it will be well-placed to hold off its rivals during the run-in.

“We’re still top of the league, and while we’ve got a number of injuries we can’t use that as an excuse,” he said.

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“We’ve got a great squad and we’re having a great season. It’s something mental from this point on, the desire we have to win trophies. This is what motivates us.

“We feel strong, we’ve got a great group with top players and if were remain strong mentally then we will achieve our objectives.”

'Atleti' will be without forward Luis Suarez, who has a calf problem, for the visit of the Basques. Joao Felix, Thomas Lemar and Kieran Trippier will all undergo late fitness tests after missing training in midweek.

Reigning champion Real, which is on a run of 14 unbeaten in all competitions, looks primed to take advantage of any slip ups.

It is riding the crest of a wave after last weekend's 'El Clasico' victory against Barcelona before seeing off Liverpool to book a place in the Champions League semifinals on Wednesday.

Real travels to Getafe on Sunday without long-term absentees Sergio Ramos and Lucas Vazquez, while Dani Carvajal and Eden Hazard remain doubtful as they continue to recover from muscle issues.