It may be nearly impossible, but Atlético Madrid will try to place UEFA Champions League heartbreak in the rearview mirror on Saturday evening when they face Athletic Club in the Basque Country.
Tuesday’s 3-0 loss to Juventus means Atlético have only LaLiga to play for this season — and even then, Diego Simeone’s men find themselves seven points behind Barcelona with 11 weeks to play and without a head-to-head advantage. Simeone spoke post-match about finishing the league campaign as strongly as possible, and a win at San Mamés would be a good place to start.
Athletic have overcome a terrible start to the season, and under Gaizka Garitano have risen to 12th in the table. They could enter the top half with a win over Atlético, though it will not be easy for the hosts — Athletic last won this fixture in Jan. 2013 and Atleti are 9-2-0 overall against los Leones in LaLiga over the past five-and-a-half years. The reverse fixture this season was an instant classic.
Simeone has — you guessed it — yet more injuries with which to deal. Santiago Arias, Stefan Savić and Vitolo are the latest to be sidelined with muscular problems, while Filipe Luís and Lucas Hernández have stepped up their recovery efforts but are not yet ready to go.
Oblak; Juanfran, Giménez, Godín, Saúl; Rodri, Thomas, Koke, Griezmann; Morata, Costa.
Athletic 1-0 Atlético.
How to watch
Date: March 16, 2019
Location: San Mamés, Bilbao, Bizkaia, Spain
Kickoff time: 6:30 p.m. CET, 5:30 p.m. GMT, 1:30 p.m. EST, 10:30 a.m. PST
SB Nation opposition blog: N/A
Available TV/streaming: Movistar+, beIN LaLiga (Spain), Eleven Sports 1 (United Kingdom), beIN Sports, fubo.tv (United States), beIN Sports Connect (France), ESPN Play Sur (Uruguay), PPTV Sport (China).