Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone expressed his disappointment after watching his side slump to a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Eibar on Saturday; a result that leaves Atlético eight points adrift of league leaders Real Madrid, who beat Sevilla 2-1 yesterday.
Simeone has expressed his unease over the team slipping back into the bad habits which saw Atleti, in Simeone's view, 'losing halves' earlier in the season.
Saturday's away defeat to Eibar was Atleti's third defeat of the season in La Liga, but it was the first time Eibar had triumphed in a competitive game over Atlético in almost 20 years - in the Spanish second tier in 2001.
After the game, Simeone stated: "We started badly. We didn't play in the first half," he told Movistar.
"We lost a half. Back in October, we were losing halves and we've gone back to doing that. It's my responsibility."
He added, "We didn't control the game, nor was there any great dominance of the opposition, but we didn't play."
Eibar just embarrassed Athletico Madrid— MBB (@lvneasy) January 18, 2020
Simeone felt that his side were punished by a more competitive Eibar side who started the match with a greater intensity. Midfielder Saul Niguez explained, "We struggled a lot at the start."
Before kick off, Eibar sat just two places above the relegation zone. Yet, Saul's assessment of the game echoed Simeone's concerns that it was primarily Atlético's poor start that resulted in the loss.
"There have been many times this season when we haven't started games well. After the good run we were on, it's a tough blow."
Simeone will hope Atlético can get back to winning ways when they travel to Cultural Leonesa in the last 32 of the Copa del Rey on Thursday.
In La Liga, they host Leganes at the Wanda Metropolitano in their next home game, before facing Real Madrid at the beginning of February.