A troubling Atletico Madrid side have plenty of issues to work on ahead of the first Madrid derby of the season.
To begin with, Jan Oblak, Jose Maria Gimenez, Stefan Savic, Thomas Lemar and Sergio Reguilon did not train to prepare for the match, reports journalist Pedro Fullana.
This casts major doubt over the participation of the aforementioned players. First up, custodian Jan Oblak has practically forced himself into the situation he is in today. The goalkeeper was injured against Real Sociedad and yet went on to play against FC Porto.
This forced him out against Celta Vigo and Bayer Leverkusen. His understudy Ivo Grbic has done a decent job but the Croatian has let in three goals in the last two outings.
Meanwhile, the unstable defence has been a major concern for manager Diego Simeone since the start of the season.
Axel Witsel and Reinildo have been occupying the space in absence of regular centre-backs and as it seems, Cholo will have to field the same duo against their cross-town rivals as Savic and Gimenez continue to be major doubts for the clash.
The aforementioned makeshift centre-backs are the team’s best bet heading into the fixture, but it must be noted that the team has conceded at least one goal in each of their last four outings.
The left side of the defence is even more troubling since Reguilon, who is still recovering from the pubalgia operation, is ruled out for the fixture. The ex-Tottenham man is yet to make an appearance for his new team and it is clear that it won’t be happening against Real Madrid.
So far, the manager has used the likes of Saul Niguez, Yannick Carrasco and Reinildo in that slot, but it is clear that the position is still lacking authority.
As far as the team’s midfield options are concerned, Simeone has failed to devise a perfect combination so far. In that regard, only Koke and Marcos Llorente are assured of a place but that too if they are fit for selection.
After that, Saul, Rodrigo De Paul, Geoffrey Kondogbia and Lemar come into the picture, but it is clear that a certain Kondogbia has lost his manager’s trust. Furthermore, the issue with Koke remains that the Spaniard looks at his best only when he is backed by Kondogbia.
As far as Lemar is concerned, he is still out injured, which potentially means he is practically out of the fixture in the first place.
The aforementioned issues are certain to hinder Atletico’s chances against Real on Sunday and it will indeed be interesting to see how Simeone will line his men up.
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.