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 will try to sign Arsenal, Liverpool target for free in the summer
Atletico Madrid saw a lot of movement during the January transfer window as they saw several players leave, while also bringing in a couple of new faces in.
But one player who they tried to sign and could not is Borussia Monchengladbach forward Marcus Thuram.
Indeed, according to AS, was on the top of director Andrea Berta’s list for the winter window as he is in the final six months of his contract. But, Gladbach asked for a fee of around €10-12 million to offload him, which prompted Atletico Madrid to move for Depay instead.
But the report states that Thuram continues to be on the agenda at the Civitas Metropolitano and Berta will try to sign him again in the summer transfer window.
However, there will be intense competition for the 25-year-old’s services given that he will be available for a free transfer at the end of the season.
Juventus and Inter Milan have shown an interest in Thuram, but there are a lot of clubs in England wishing to sign him up.
Indeed, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur are all said to be gunning for the French forward’s signing while more clubs could join the list of his suitors as days progress.
So, it will be important for Atletico Madrid to achieve a top-four finish in La Liga and qualify for the UEFA Champions League for next season if they wish to attract a player of Thuram’s capability and calibre.
The 25-year-old has netted 13 goals and set up four more in 19 matches across all competitions. His ability to play anywhere across the frontline makes him an attractive prospect for interested parties such as Atletico.
But given the intense competition, Diego Simeone & co. will need to act swiftly if they wish to sign Thuram.