Atletico lose again as World Cup looms

Mallorca's Kosovar forward Vedat Muriqi (C) vies with Atletico Madrid's Argentinian midfielder Rodrigo de Paul (L) and Atletico Madrid's Brazilian defender Felipe Augusto de Almeida during the Spanish league football match between RCD Mallorca and Club Atletico de Madrid at the Visit Mallorca Stadium in Palma de Mallorca on November 9, 2022.

The World Cup break cannot come soon enough for Atletico Madrid.

Their struggles continued on Wednesday with a 1-0 loss at Mallorca in the Spanish league, extending the team’s winless streak to five matches in all competitions.

The latest setback dropped Diego Simeone’s side to sixth place going into the World Cup break, 13 points off leaders Barcelona.

Vedat Muriqi extended his recent scoring run to score Mallorca’s winner from close range in the 16th minute. The Kosovo striker has found the net in his last four league matches.

Atletico came close to equalising four minutes from time, but Alvaro Morata’s powerful close-range shot was spectacularly saved by Mallorca goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic.

The Madrid club were keen to go into the break on a positive note after being eliminated in the group stage of the Champions League and missing out on qualification for the Europa League playoffs.

Coach Simeone has been under increasing pressure after a run of poor results, with fans protesting and booing the squad.

Playing most of the match with nine men, Sevilla lost 2-1 to Real Sociedad to remain winless at home in the league this season.

With Sociedad already leading through a 20th-minute strike from Alexander Sorloth, Sevilla had Ivan Rakitic sent off in the 28th minute, and Tanguy Nianzou six minutes later – both for reckless challenges.

Brais Mendez put Sociedad two up, before Rafa Mir scored an unlikely consolation goal for the hosts shortly before halftime.

Villarreal beat Espanyol 1-0 on the road to give coach Quique Setien his first win since taking over the team following the departure of Unai Emery four games ago.

In Wednesday’s other game, Almeria beat Getafe 1-0 at home with a first-half goal from Leo Baptistao.

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