Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid to re-open an eight-point lead in La Liga.
Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has all but conceded this year's title race after witnessing his side go down 1-0 at the hands of Barcelona on Sunday afternoon.
The tense affair was settled by a solitary moment of Lionel Messi magic, with the Argentine whipping a free-kick past the stretched Jan Oblak to net his 600th career goal.
The defeat leaves the Spanish capital side eight points behind Barca - nine including the head-to-head. And with just 11 games to go as well as much ground to make up, while speaking to AS post-match, the Atleti head coach admitted he believes their challenge to be crowned Primera Division champions this campaign is almost at an end.
“It seems pretty unlikely that Barcelona will lose three games, but we’ll go on competing,” Simeone said.
“It was a similar game to the one in Madrid. They were better in the first half, and we reacted, more or less as we did then [in Madrid], but then we got a draw and this time we lost by a single goal.”
For the entirety of the opening 45 minutes, and some of the second, Atleti offered very little in attack, with their first real sighting on goal coming long after the break.
However, despite his seemingly over-defensive set up, at least initially, the 47-year-old has defended his tactics, claiming the same style of play produced a 5-2 win over Sevilla last month.
“We looked good in the second-half", the Madrid boss said. "We were ourselves. The result didn’t happen because of the system. With the same formation, we scored five goals against Sevilla.
"It’s a question of playing as we did in the second half for 90 minutes. There were very few chances in the game. Messi’s, Busquets'. It’s true that in the first-half we didn’t attack, but in the second we were closer to playing as the side we are.”
However, despite their disappointment, Simeone must now prepare his squad for the visit of Lokomotiv Moscow; who travel to the Spanish capital in the Europa League on Thursday evening.