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Atlético look to keep good times rolling against Granada

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Atleti will keep pace with Barcelona and Real Madrid with three points Sunday

Manuel Queimadelos Alonso/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid already know that it will face Bayern in the semifinals of the UEFA Champions League, but the team must for now focus on La Liga. Granada visit the Calderón on Sunday with the intention of getting three points and escaping the relegation fight. The Andalusian side has only one point more than 18th-placed Sporting Gijón and will be without Youssef El Arabi and Isaac Success among others. Granada have not beaten los rojiblancos since returning to the top flight in 2011.

As for Atlético, all good news. Diego Simeone's men are only 3 points behind Barcelona after the Blaugrana lost at Anoeta last week. Furthermore, nursing has remained empty. Jose Giménez and Tiago Mendes are recovered from their injuries and joined their teammates Friday in full training. The Portuguese will not be in the call of Cholo for the match but his comeback after 4 and a half months of injury could be closer.

A defense without Filipe Luis

Simeone will have the challenge of replacing Filipe Luis. The Brazilian accumulated a fifth yellow card against Espanyol last week, which will mean he won’t be available to play against Granada. There are no "natural" left backs in the squad but him since Siqueira went to Valencia in January. Thus, he is maybe the player hardest to replace in the squad.

Simeone can make up for Filipe’s absence with a few options. The player most-used for this kind of inconvenience is Jesús Gámez. The former Málaga captain almost always gives solid performances in that position and his throw-ins are occasionally quite valuable. However, he has the handicap of not being left-footed, which diminishes his ability while attacking and pinging crosses into the penalty area.

The other option is Lucas moving from the center to the left of defense. The academy player put in excellent performances against Barça in the Champions League quarterfinals and deserves Simeone’s confidence. The Frenchman is technically skilled at left back despite his work as a central defender of late and he would not have problems contributing in attack.

Torres will be back in the XI

Fernando could be the main novelty in Atleti’s XI for this match, replacing Augusto Fernández. The forward was unable to play the second leg against Barça the last Wednesday after being sent off in the first leg at Camp Nou. The Granada game could be a nice chance for him to continue his vein of good form. He has scored in three matches in a row and is making a pretty good case for a contract renewal. Torres also scored in this fixture last year, netting the opener in an eventual 2-0 win.

Regarding to the rest of the XI, it could be practically the same team that obtained the midweek comeback in the UCL. Yannick Carrasco and Antoine Griezmann would share the front line with Torres and the Gabi-Koke-Saúl Ñíguez combo would play behind them in the midfield. Juanfran and Diego Godín are fixed in the XI and Stefan Savic could accompany the Uruguayan in central defense if Lucas occupies the left wing.

Possible XI: Oblak; Juanfran, Savic, Godín, Lucas; Gabi, Saúl, Koke; Carrasco, Griezmann, Torres.

Simeone´s squad

In: Oblak, Moyá, Godín, Savic, Lucas, Juanfran, Gámez, Augusto, Gabi, Koke, Saúl, Thomas, Óliver, Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann, Vietto.

Out: Filipe Luís (suspended), Giménez (injury), Kranevitter (tactical) and Tiago (injury).