Atletico Madrid may be sitting at the top of LaLiga Santander, but there are many difficult challenges in what’s left of this campaign.
Diego Simeone‘s side have a tough task on their hands if they’re to see out the rest of the season and be crowned champions, as every side they face from now on will be going into the match as if it were a cup final.
Los Rojiblancos find themselves six points ahead of Real Madrid and seven ahead of Barcelona, who play on Monday, but there are still a lot of things that Atletico can improve.
Better use of the squad
With league and Champions League commitments coming thick and fast, Atletico are still relying on the same core group of 12 or 13 players.
If there is an injury, or a player is performing poorly, the level of the team drops noticeably when a fringe player is brought in. Simeone needs more from his squad as a whole.
Saul not at his best
Saul Niguez hasn’t reached the level he’s shown in previous years. If Koke isn’t playing well, there isn’t anyone performing well enough to take his place.
Joao Felix needs to give more
The Portuguese prodigy needs to be more decisive in the final third of the pitch. His quality is undisputed, but he needs to grow and mature as a player. He’s a very expensive substitute in this Atletico side.
Early in the season Simeone‘s defence seemed impenetrable, but now everyone fancies their chances of getting at least one.
Their inability to defend set pieces has seen them drop valuable points and it has opened the door for Real Madrid and Barcelona to get back in the title race.
Several key players have been missing due to suspension in recent weeks. Cards have been seen for protesting both on and off the pitch, and it’s something that Simeone has come out and said that they need to address.
Need to handle pressure better
Simeone spoke about the pressures of the title run in in his press conference.
“There needs to be more calmness,” he said.
“We need to keep moving forward and not let anxiety enter our minds.”
Atletico need to remain focused and psychologically in the right place for the business end of the season.
Lack of goalscorers
They are relying heavily on Luis Suarez and Marcos Llorente for goals. In their last six matches, only Joao Felix, Suarez and Llorente have been on the scoresheet.
The scoring responsibilities need to be better spread throughout the side if they are to wrap up the league title.