Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone faced increased pressure on Wednesday after the LaLiga champions slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat by Granada on Wednesday.
With Atletico having lost four successive league matches for the first time since Simeone took charge in 2011, the Argentine’s role has come under scrutiny from both club supporters and Spanish media.
Atletico lie fifth in the standings with 29 points after 18 games, 17 points behind leaders Real Madrid, who beat Athletic Bilbao 2-1 on Wednesday.
It took less than two minutes for Joao Felix to fire Atletico ahead with a perfect low shot from the edge of the box, with the goal demonstrating why the fans had been urging Simeone to play the Portuguese striker from the start more often.
But Granada equalised 15 minutes later with a stupendous long shot from Darwin Machis.
The indefatigable Joao Felix desperately tried to score a second goal but he was frustrated by an equally determined Granada who found the winner midway through the second half thanks to Jorge Molina.
The win lifted them to 12th in the standings with 22 points.
It was Granada’s first win against Atletico since 1973, ending a 25-game winless streak.
Simeone’s judgment is constantly being questioned as Atletico’s usually rock-solid defence has now leaked in 22 goals in 18 games this season, with the champions keeping only five clean sheets in LaLiga during that time.
In contrast, they had conceded only eight goals at the same stage during their 2021-2022 campaign.
“There are inexplicable things happening with our team.” Atletico’s captain Koke told reporters.
“We dominate the games and suddenly they (opponents) come and score an amazing goal in their only chance. It’s all about the details. It is not fair.”
Meanwhile Real Madrid marched on beating Athletic Bilbao 2-1, thanks to a brace by Karim Benzema in the first half.
The French man has now reached 30 LaLiga goals in 2021.
Benzema’s brace inside seven minutes on Wednesday quickly helped atone for Madrid’s goalless draw with lowly Cadiz last time out.
Oihan Sancet halved the deficit in a frantic opening at San Mames, but the hosts rarely troubled Thibaut Courtois after the interval as Carlo Ancelotti’s side navigated the contest to seal the three points.
Victory gave Madrid an eight-point advantage over second-placed Sevilla heading into 2022 and a 17-point lead over defending champions Atletico Madrid, who were defeated by Granada.