Atletico aiming to kickstart La Liga charge against Eibar
MADRID, SEPT 14: Atletico Madrid were billed as serious contenders to win La Liga this season but three games in and they are already playing catch-up.
A creditable draw away to Valencia was followed by a stodgy one-goal win at home to Rayo Vallecano. By the time the whistle blew on a chaotic 2-0 defeat to Celta Vigo, Barcelona and Real Madrid were readying themselves for a third win out of three.
"I'm not worried," coach Diego Simeone said. "I'm calmer than ever because it's a wake-up call, a call for more focus."
It also means five points stand between Atletico and Spain's two grandees, who have swept up 13 of the last 14 league titles, with Simeone's surprise triumph in 2014 the anomaly.
That was Atleti's first in 18 years and a surprise of such gigantic proportions, that even Barca's fans applauded when it was signed off at the Camp Nou, in their own back yard.
A repeat next May would be no less impressive but certainly more believable.
In the four years since, Atletico have finished third, third, third and second, won the Europa League and gone to the final of the Champions League, only to lose to Real.
But it was their business in the summer, or rather lack of it, that deepened the sense this could again be their year. Antoine Griezmann felt like a new signing after he snubbed Barcelona - and announced it in a documentary - while the arrivals of Thomas Lemar from Monaco and Rodri from Villarreal bolstered two areas of weakness. -AFP