Diego Simeone said he knew Atletico Madrid had to win after the LaLiga leaders moved a step closer to the title after defeating Real Sociedad.

After Barcelona dropped points, Atletico could be within one victory of claiming their second league crown of Simeone's tenure following Wednesday's 2-1 win over Sociedad.

Yannick Carrasco and Angel Correa struck in the space of 12 first-half minutes to give Atletico a 2-0 lead inside half an hour in the Spanish capital midweek.

Carrasco has been involved in 14 LaLiga goals this season (six goals and eight assists), equalling his record in a same campaign in the competition (14 in 2016-17 – 10 goals, four assists).

La Real set up a grandstand finish through Igor Zubeldia but Atletico held on to move four points clear atop the table with two rounds remaining, though city rivals Real Madrid could move back within two by beating Granada on Thursday.

"We knew that we had to win," Atletico head coach Simeone told reporters. "We were ahead in the game against a team that were doing things well, especially away from home.

"The first half was pretty good, we took a 2-0 lead, we had enough chances to have a bigger advantage. Up until the 25th minute of the second half the game was open and at the end of the season winning is very important and then their goal happened as did those last few minutes.

"We were left with the feeling that we suffered in those last few minutes because of Sociedad's desire to try and get a draw."

This is the third time in history Atleti have reached 80 or more points after 36 games played in LaLiga (assuming three points per victory) after 2013-14 (88) and 2015-16 (85).

Atletico are unbeaten in their last 19 matches played on a Wednesday in LaLiga (W15 D4) since a defeat to Madrid in April 2012 (1-4).

"We need to rest. Clearly we're all in a season that has been very tough and that will end up being very tough indeed because of everything that has happened to us as a society," added Simeone. "We started too fast and you all know that and all teams have had to fight against that. We're no exception.

"We have two games ahead and we'll face them in the same way we have the others, game after game, knowing that on Sunday it will be a very important match for us, knowing it will be a very important game for what's to come in LaLiga."

Koke made his 500th appearance for Atleti in all competitions, becoming the second player to reach this figure in the history of the club after Adelardo Rodriguez (550).

"We have two games left, that's a whole world," Koke said. "The league is really tight these last five games, we've always said it. Everyone is dropping points, these games are finals for us, we won this one and on Sunday and we have another final we want to win.

"We're Atleti, if we weren't suffering, it wouldn't be us. Thanks to the fans who came here outside [the stadium] and those who can't. You need your fans to make that extra effort as we did in the last 10 minutes, we could hear them outside. We're grateful."

The Atletico Madrid players have released a statement to "convey our satisfaction" after the club withdrew from the European Super League.

Atletico were among 12 clubs who announced plans for the controversial new competition on Sunday.

But the tournament – a rival to the Champions League but with guaranteed participation for its founding members – quickly came under scrutiny.

Anger from fans, players, coaches, governing bodies, governments and the media soon prompted England's 'big six' to back out. Atleti followed, along with Inter and Milan.

Koke, the Atleti captain, posted on his Twitter page on Wednesday: "From the Atletico Madrid squad, we want to convey our satisfaction about the final decision to renounce the Super League project made by our club.

"We will continue fighting to help Atleti grow from our position through the values of effort and sporting merit that have always characterised us, so that all of you continue to see yourself reflected in those signs of identity.

"We continue to work hard, focused on the game tomorrow."

Speaking before Thursday's LaLiga clash with Huesca, Atleti coach Diego Simeone had earlier backed the club both in their decision to pursue the Super League and then to step back.

"I understood that the club was going to decide what was best for the club," he said. "The club has looked at our fans, employees, players, president – the Atletico family."

Simeone added: "We understand that this situation [the withdrawal] is good for everyone. We all belong to football – before being footballers and coaches, we are fans."

Diego Simeone said Atletico Madrid do not feel nervous after the LaLiga leaders slipped up, though he did question his team's intensity.

Atletico suffered a costly 1-0 loss to Sevilla on Sunday, which saw their lead atop the table cut to three points, though Barcelona could close to within a solitary point if they beat Real Valladolid on Monday.

Despite Jan Oblak's penalty heroics, Atletico lost to fourth-placed Sevilla in LaLiga for the first time since 2016 following Marcos Acuna's 70th-minute header.

Atletico have won just four of nine games, having threatened to run away with the LaLiga trophy earlier in the season but pressure is mounting on Simeone's side as defending champions Real Madrid and Barca close in.

"We have to keep working hard and taking a look at what we have to improve," Simeone told reporters. "We have to slightly question our intensity and we need to make sure we get back the intensity that won us so many games and prove the squad's talent and ability.

"We have a week ahead of us now that some players, because of bookings, will not be able to play. We'll try and prepare as well as we can, and we'll keep going game by game. That won't change my mentality at all.

"We can't accept what happened today but we also have to accept that we have to improve, and there are very negative stats at the moment."

Atletico have lost two out of their past seven games in LaLiga (W3 D2), as many as their previous 40 games in all competitions (W26 D12).

Simeone, though, shouldered the blame for Atletico's defeat away to Julen Lopetegui's Sevilla.

"If I make the change at 30 minutes in, that's because myself as the manager, I made the mistake in the analysis of the game, and we wanted to try and do something else, and we tried to make as many changes as we could to make sure we push forward," said Simeone.

"I think the team improved in the second half, we were much more competitive, and we improved a bit more closely as to what we can do. We knew it was a very level game, especially in the second half. We had the chance from Mario Hermoso as well as Angel Correa's chance which was very clear as well.

"We are a side that needs to win games like this and we knew that probably, it was my mistake because I made the wrong decisions before the game so that the team felt comfortable. In the second half we just weren't close enough to what we normally play."

Atletico captain Koke was critical of the referee for not reviewing Acuna's goal amid claims Lucas Ocampos handled the ball at the start of the goalscoring move.

"It was a clear handball for the goal and there was another handball [by Diego Carlos] which should have been a second yellow card," he said.

"We have VAR which has to be there to help out. Today wasn't our day. On other days it has favoured us, today it didn't go our way.

"This is a tough defeat but we tried everything. We struggled in the first half but in the second we had chances."

Atletico director Tomas Renones added: The handball is clear [by Ocampos] and referee should have seen it. It has hurt us, but Atletico are not going to complain, just keep working to stay top of La Liga."

Diego Simeone praised the development of Marcos Llorente after the midfielder helped Atletico Madrid secure a 2-1 victory over Granada. 

Atleti extended their lead at the top of LaLiga to eight points thanks to Angel Correa's deflected winner on Saturday. 

Llorente provided the assist for Correa having opened the scoring himself with a neat finish in the 63rd minute, taking his tally of league goals for the season to seven. 

The 26-year-old – signed primarily to play as a defensive midfielder in 2019 from rivals Real Madrid – scored his first goal for Atleti in a 2-2 draw with Valencia on February 14 last year. 

He has now netted 13 times in all competitions in total for the club, while his tally of 10 league goals since getting off the mark puts him behind only Luis Suarez (16) for Simeone's squad. 

Llorente has averaged a goal every 237 minutes in LaLiga over the last 12 months, as well as providing 10 assists and creating 35 chances. Only Koke, who moved level with Tomas Renones for second place on the list for appearances in all competitions for Atletico, has created more (41).

With his opener against Granada, Llorente became the midfielder in LaLiga with the most direct goal involvements so far this season, so it was hardly surprising when Simeone spoke glowingly of the Spain international's desire to transform himself into an all-round attacking threat. 

"As coaches, titles are wonderful, because they fill you with excitement and glory," Simeone told a news conference. 

"But when you work with a footballer and see his growth reflected, you feel more joy and more enthusiasm to continue advancing in this profession.  

"When we see a footballer with the ability to do different things than what he had been doing in his career, we jump into it. It happened to us with Griezmann, with Saul, with Juanfran. 

"Why is it happening? I would like to look for the images of Marcos training when he was not even playing, when in practice he scored a lot of goals, we joked that he was going to have to play higher [up the pitch]. 

"We put him up front and now I think in the middle is where feels more at ease." 

While Llorente delivered the goods on Saturday, LaLiga's leading scorer Suarez had an off day in front of goal, landing only one of his four attempts on target, though he was unfortunate to hit the crossbar in the second half. 

"We always ask all the boys who have played as strikers in our team for collaboration and effort for the team," Simeone said. 

"Luis, beyond what he generates with his goals, has a lot of intelligence. He knows where to apply pressure, where to bother the rival, generate doubts and we need everyone."

Luis Suarez scored a set-piece double as Atletico Madrid saw off Cadiz 4-2 to move 10 points clear at the LaLiga summit.

Real Madrid's shock 2-1 loss to Levante on Saturday provided Atleti with a chance to extend their lead at the top and they did exactly that with victory at Estadio Ramon de Carranza.

Diego Simeone's men had trailed in their last two outings, though Suarez opened the scoring with a sublime free-kick in Sunday's clash before Alvaro Negredo equalised.

Saul Niguez's flicked finish and Suarez's penalty gave Atleti some breathing space and, while Negredo's second of the day did make things interesting, Koke finished smartly late on to make certain of an eighth league win in a row.

Anthony Lozano glanced wide from a promising Cadiz opportunity and, less than three minutes later, Suarez sent a 28-yard free-kick up and over the wall and into the left corner to give Atleti the lead.

Cadiz were level almost instantly thanks to Negredo, who curled a fine finish beyond Jan Oblak after the ball had ricocheted into his path off Thomas Lemar.

The visitors had won only one of their last eight league games prior to Sunday and it did not take Saul long to restore Atleti's lead with a rather fortunate goal.

Lemar sent in a cross from the right and Saul stuck out a leg, seemingly in an attempt to help the ball on, but instead succeeding in sending it looping over Jeremias Ledesma.

Atleti survived another scare before half-time when a penalty initially awarded for handball against Koke was overturned by VAR due to the midfielder's arm being on the ground when contact was made.

That proved a big moment as Simeone's side converted a penalty of their own through Suarez five minutes into the second half after Marcos Mauro brought down Lemar.

Suarez blazed over when on for a hat-trick and that nearly proved costly as Atletico failed to deal with a ball into the box and Negredo scrambled past Oblak to give Cadiz hope.

Oblak then had to be alert to keep out Negredo's header, but the next goal went Atletico's way, substitute Angel Correa exchanging passes with Marcos Llorente and squaring for Koke to round off the scoring.

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