Atletico Madrid returned to winning ways against Espanyol on the weekend through a brace from Yannick Carrasco after no wins in their last three games before that.
With Barcelona in less than ideal form, Atletico will be hoping to take advantage of their low morale and leapfrog them in the league. Diego Simeone’s men currently sit in fourth place, level on points with Barça, but with a game more.
The next opponent in their path to securing a top-four place is Granada, who they take on at the Wanda Metropolitano tomorrow night for gameweek 33.
The Andalusian outfit languish in the relegation zone, and will definitely put up a fight. For Atletico, it is a game they must take with the utmost seriousness, for they have taken a measly four points out of a possible 15 against the current bottom three.
As such, while Simeone has several gaping holes in his side, there is no doubt he will look to start with the strongest possible starting XI. But currently, what is that? Madrid Universal takes a look.
With Jose Maria Gimenez injured, and Felipe suspended, Atletico have just two first-team centre-backs in their squad list in the form of Stefan Savic and Mario Hermoso. We expect Reinildo Mandava to join them to form the three-man backline.
This defensive trident will have the job to protest Jan Oblak in goal. The Slovenian is having a bizarrely torrid season, and made yet another error that led to a goal against Espanyol.
Yannick Carrasco should start as the left-wingback after his exceptional performance on the weekend. Renan Lodi is likely to be benched, while Sime Vrsaljko starts on the right side in the same role.
These two will be flanking a midfield trident headlined by captain Koke, who is expected to take up the role of the defensive midfielder in the absence of Geoffrey Kondogbia.
While Marcos Llorente is used playing wide more often this season, he will start as a central midfielder with little to no options present. Rodrigo de Paul rounds off the midfield on the left side.
The problems only get worse for Simeone in the frontline for their most in-form forward, Joao Felix, is ruled out for rest of the season. He does, however, have five forwards to choose from.
Angel Correa is Atletico’s best forward in terms of output, with 16 goals and assists in La Liga. He has, however, been reduced to sloppy seconds in terms of gametime. He should start in the absence of Felix, especially since Atleti desperately need a win.
Finally, Antoine Griezmann takes his place as the final piece in the puzzle, starting on the right side of the front-two.
Predicted Atletico Madrid XI:
Correa · Griezmann
Carrasco · de Paul · Koke · Llorente · Vrsaljko
Reinildo · Hermoso · Savic
Be that as it may, Atletico Madrid do not have a lot of options off the bench who can change the game.
They do, however, have Luis Suarez in their ranks, who has scored 11 goals this season despite not being in the best of form. He could be called on especially if Atletico are chasing the scoreline.
The same goes for Matheus Cunha, who averages a goal every other game this season in the league.
The services of Renan Lodi could be useful, too, even though he has been run ragged over the last six odd games.
Ancelotti talks Courtois, Militao, Bellingham, VAR controversies ahead of Las Palmas vs Real Madrid
Coming off a highly controversial game against Almeria, Real Madrid will now travel to Gran Canaria to take on Las Palmas tomorrow as part of the early kick-off.
Carlo Ancelotti spoke about the clash tomorrow, starting off by confirming his goalkeeper for tomorrow, “Lunin will start tomorrow.”
He also added that Madrid were looking to get back to their usual level after back-to-back poor performances, one of which included elimination against Atletico Madrid in the Copa del Rey round of 16.
“We are motivated to return to our best level after 2 bad games.”
The Italian gaffer also commented on the biggest football story in the world today, which was Jurgen Klopp announcing his decision to leave Liverpool at the end of the season.
“It’s quite surprising, I understand. Working for a long time with the same club and players lowers your motivation a bit. He’s doing a fantastic job at Liverpool.”
And of course, Ancelotti also spoke about the leaked VAR audiovisual, some of which are highly controversial for all parties involved. Barcelona coach and players have also commented on the same, in light of the Negreira case.
“They have talked a lot. Everyone knows what has happened in the last 20 years in Spanish football. The Civil Guard is carrying out an investigations. That is the real problem of Spanish football.”
Luckily for the manager and fans, all injured players — minus the ACL trio of David Alaba, Eder Militao, and Thibaut Courtois — are available. Jude Bellingham is suspended, however.
“Everyone is available now after the recent period of injuries.”
“Making up for Bellingham’s absence tomorrow? Brahim and Joselu are available options. They were able to show themselves after I relied on them as substitutes,” he added.
And as far as Militao and Courtois are concerned, both of whom tore their ACL early in the season, Ancelotti suggested that they could make their return before the season ends.
“Courtois and Militão both have the option to play this season. The recovery process is going very well, they are training on an individual level. It is February and these types of injuries last 6-8 months, so I think they will recover before the end of the season.”
Source: Mundo Deportivo