In-form Torres calls for focus as title race hots up

Barcelona's remarkable and unexpected slump has blown the Liga title race wide open, with a run of three consecutive defeats allowing Atletico to draw level on points with the reigning champion at the top of the table.

Fernando Torres Atletico Madrid v PSV UEFA Champions League 15032016

"Take one step at a time. The Champions League is far away, so now we have to get the three points in Bilbao. We are excited and enjoying a very nice period, but we do not settle for what we have achieved."

Fernando Torres has warned Atletico Madrid to avoid looking beyond Wednesday's trip to Athletic Bilbao as it hunts both domestic and European glory.

Barcelona's remarkable and unexpected slump has blown the Liga title race wide open, with a run of three consecutive defeats allowing Atletico to draw level on points with the reigning champion at the top of the table.

Champions League glory?

Diego Simeone's team inflicted further misery on Barca by knocking it out of the Champions League last week. Atletico's reward for its 3-2 aggregate victory is a semifinal tie against Bayern Munich, the first leg of which takes place at the Vicente Calderon next Wednesday.

However, in-form striker Torres - who has scored in each of his last four appearances, including Sunday's comfortable 3-0 win over Granada - has called on Atletico to think only of its match at San Mames.

When asked about the prospect of Atletico winning its first Champions League title at a sponsors' event on Monday, Torres replied: "I see myself in Bilbao on Wednesday, I do not look beyond the motto 'game by game'.

"Take one step at a time. The Champions League is far away, so now we have to get the three points in Bilbao. I do not look beyond that.

"We are excited and enjoying a very nice period, but we do not settle for what we have achieved."

European ambitions

Athletic, meanwhile, goes into Wednesday's game in desperate need of three points to keep its dreams of Champions League qualification alive.

Sunday's 1-0 win at Malaga, coupled with Villarreal's surprise defeat at Rayo Vallecano, moved Ernesto Valverde's side to within six points of Marcelino's fourth-placed team.

Bilbao displayed impressive resolve at La Rosaleda having suffered the heartbreak of a penalty shootout loss to Sevilla in the Europa League quarterfinals just three days previously.

Squad updates

And midfielder Ander Iturraspe is determined to put a dent in Atletico's title challenge with another three points this week.

"Atletico is a team you want to beat - you always want to beat the best teams in Europe," he told AS.

"They will be motivated, but we are playing at home. There is a great desire to compete and win this match."

Atletico duo Antoine Griezmann and Koke head to San Mames in fine form, but Iturraspe says Athletic will look to limit their impact by defending well as a unit.

“We will have to be very compact - to play together and help each other. But they are not just about Griezmann and Koke," he added.

Key Opta stats:

- Athletic Bilbao has gone five league games against Atletico Madrid without a win (D1 L4).
- The Basque side has lost just one of its last 13 league games at San Mames (W8 D4) – 1-0 against Real Sociedad.
- Diego Simeone's side has won four of its last five away games in La Liga (L1).