Atletico Madrid have not had the best of starts to their La Liga campaign, with the 2020 champions most recently succumbing to cross-town rivals Real Madrid.
It was not the best of games for Los Colchoneros who tried to make a late comeback through a Mario Hermoso goal, but it was simply too little too late, as Real Madrid managed to hold on to their slender one-goal lead to clinch a 2-1 victory.
In addition to the defeat, it appears Atletico Madrid have been another major blow in the aftermath of the Madrid derby, with Joao Felix still yet to train with the Portugal team.
The Atleti superstar was called up by the Portuguese national team ahead of the UEFA Nations League matches earlier this summer.
But according to Belen Sanchez Garcia, he has not taken part in the training. In fact, he has been ruled out for the upcoming against the Czech Republic.
The former SL Benfica starlet remains a doubt against Spain as well, which raises serious concerns over the player’s fitness.
Sanchez Garcia suggests Felix’s injury came in the aftermath of a rash tackle from Real Madrid defender Dani Carvalaj during the derby. Another tackle from Eder Militao did not help his cause either.
Atletico believe that Carvajal was intentionally trying to injure Felix, just as he did with Antoine Griezmann last season.
Diego Simeone even wanted to substitute Felix early on in the game, but the player wanted to continue. He ended up playing until the hour mark before being replaced by Matheus Cunha.
The brunt of Felix’s injury remains unclear at the moment. But Atletico Madrid would ideally want him to return to the pitch after the end of the international break.
The forward is considered one of the key assets in Atleti’s attacking setup and his potential injury could be catastrophic for the team, especially ahead of the gruelling October schedule.
Atletico Madrid midfielder on the derby against Real Madrid: “Very difficult to beat them”
Following a 1-1 draw in their Champions League opener against Lazio, Atletico Madrid will shift all their attention to La Liga, as they brace themselves for the derby against Real Madrid this weekend.
Heading into this game, Atleti midfielder Marcos Llorente spoke about Real Madrid’s quality and Atletico Madrid’s chances of squeezing all three points from this iconic derby.
Llorente on Madrid derby
“The sensations are good. The team is very good, the other day we played a great game despite ending up drawing. I really think that the team did a great job that must be maintained for this match,” Llorente said in an interview with Diario AS.
When asked whether or not Real Madrid being tagged as favourites could aid Atleti, the midfielder said, “Honestly, it neither motivates me nor demotivates me. We simply have to do what we work on during the week, what the coach asks of us.”
Llorente stressed the importance of the game, adding, “It is a great rival we have in front of us, they are having a very good start to the season and that motivates me and everyone to try to play a good game.”
“Real Madrid is a great club, they have great players and it is very difficult to beat them. I think we have competed, we have also achieved several draws, but in the end, either you go out one hundred percent and do things very, very well or it is difficult to beat them,” he added.
A former member of the Real Madrid youth academy, Llorente joined Atletico Madrid in 2019. Since then, he has racked up over 150 competitive appearances for Los Colchoneros.
Llorente, though, said he feels no sense of vindication when he performs well against his former team.
“No. In the end, it’s been many years since I left there and I’m at Atlético. Perhaps in the first years, those types of feelings and sensations can arise, but today they no longer do,” he said.
Llorente on Vinicius, Koke & Bellingham
The Atletico Madrid star went on to talk about other aspects of the game, including the fact that his team had one less player every time they faced Real Madrid last season.
“I have zero worries. These are things that are not in our remit, that escape our hands. We play football, the referees referee and those who have to decide decide,” he said.
Llorente, in fact, said that the return of Koke could be a real boost for Atleti. “It is always good that Koke is with us, both on the field and in the day-to-day life of the game,” he said.
“Beyond the grass. The support he gives, the advice he gives us, his experience. it is always important to have him and it is great news that he is already training with us,” he added.
Talking about the absence of Vinicius Junior and the form of Jude Bellingham, Llorente said, “Well, you have to be careful with everyone. All Real Madrid players are very good and can make a difference at any moment of the game. Bellingham is having a great start and we have to take that into account and be very focused.”
Finally, Marcos Llorente put out a message for all the Atletico Madrid fans, claiming their support ahead of this crucial encounter this weekend.
“It will be a full house as always. We don’t have to tell them anything, they know the importance of this match for Atlético, we know that they never fail, they are always supporting us and we count on them,” he said.