A 300-minute goalless run has not only seen Atlético Madrid drop out of LaLiga’s European places — it has also threatened the team’s progress in the current European campaign.
Atlético have already failed twice to get out of Champions League Group D. Losses away to Bayer Leverkusen and Juventus mean Los Colchoneros hold the slimmest of advantages over the former — the latter has already won the group and has nothing to play for in Germany on Wednesday night.
This all means Lokomotiv Moscow’s visit to Madrid equates with a must-win match. It has become Atlético’s biggest game of the season, as demotion to the Europa League for the second time in three years remains a distinct possibility and would devastate the club.
The good news, though, is José Giménez is fit at last after an absence of nearly 50 days. Diego Simeone seems to be weighing up his options at left back and is set to hand Ángel Correa a start — though that move would limit the coach’s options off the bench, seeing as Vitolo is injured again and Thomas Lemar is being steadily frozen out.
Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Giménez, Arias; Thomas, Saúl, Correa, Koke; Félix, Morata.
1-0 Atlético. Getting Giménez back after six weeks out will be a huge plus. Heck, winning in any capacity will be a huge plus. Eliminated Lokomotiv will be without playmaker João Mário and could be down veteran goalkeeper Guilherme as well — Atlético may not reinvent the wheel here but really should do just enough to qualify, even if only by a point.
A decisive performance, starting with a goal or two — Marca say it’s time for João Félix “to become” Antoine Griezmann, for example — will lift a whole bunch of spirits.
My record on the season: 11-10
How to watch
Date Dec. 11, 2019
Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST
Available TV/streaming Mitele Plus (Spain), BT Sport 3 (United Kingdom), B/R Live (United States), Match Premier (Russia), DAZN (Germany), Eleven Sports 2 (Portugal), SuperSport 11 (Ghana), FOX Sports Cono Sur (Argentina), CCTV-5 (China)