Simeone calls for mental strength in title race

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Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone believes that the team with the greatest mental strength will succeed in La Liga’s title race after his side was beaten 2-1 by Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Atletico have been in poor form in recent weeks but steadied their collapsing title bid with consecutive wins over Eibar and Huesca but on Sunday, they were outplayed by Athletic.

“People ask me what the most important factor will be and it’s obvious to me that it will be the mental factor,” Simeone told reporters after a second defeat in five league games.

“We did not play the way we wanted to in the first half, it was totally different in the second, and the team that manages that emotional balance the best will have the best chance of winning the title.”

In January, Atletico were 10 points clear at the top with a game. However their lead has been cut to two points and Barcelona will knock them off the summit if they beat Granada on Thursday.

Real Madrid are also only two points behind Atletico while Sevilla are three back.

Simeone did not dwell on how his side had thrown away their sizeable advantage and emphasised that they would claim the league title if they won their remaining five games.

They visit Elche next before a crunch visit to Barca, then host Real Sociedad and Osasuna before a trip to Real Valladolid.

“Real and Barca are used to winning the title. We had a big lead this year but we knew Real and Barca were not going to surrender. Now Sevilla are playing very well and we have a very exciting situation,” added Simeone.

“We still depend on ourselves and with five games to go that’s crucial. It will all come down to how mentally strong we are and how determined we are in those five games.”

RELATED STORYAtletico form will be tough to maintain – Simeone

By FARPost Reporter

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