Atlético Madrid suffered its worst loss of the Diego Simeone era on Thursday, but must now bounce back against Leganés.
The big one takes place at the Santiago Bernabéu on Feb. 1, but Atlético welcome Leganés at Sunday lunchtime after top-four rivals Sevilla and Valencia won Saturday. Simeone’s men have to bag three points to remain third and to distance themselves from the humiliating midweek Copa del Rey exit.
Leganés — now coached by former Atlético boss Javier Aguirre — are four points from safety at the bottom of LaLiga. The club just sold big forward Youssef En-Nesyri to Sevilla, weakening what is already the league’s lowest-scoring attack. Los Pepineros have never beaten Atleti away, and a Vitolo goal saw the mattress makers claim the reverse fixture back in August.
Jan Oblak and Álvaro Morata will be back after both were left of the squad which faced Cultural Leonesa, Kieran Trippier is fit once more, while Šime Vrsaljko makes his first squad for a league fixture since May 2018. Koke is included too, though he is not fully fit and may be around just to support his teammates during a difficult moment.
Possible XI Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Savić, Lodi; Thomas, Herrera, Correa, Saúl; Félix, Morata.
Prediction 1-1. Simeone addressed many things in Saturday’s press conference, but what stood out to me was his honest comment about smaller teams giving Atlético serious problems in big moments. He brought up the losses to Almería and Osasuna during the title-winning season, and his team’s record against teams out of the top seven has been fine but not sterling over the past two seasons.
That record is substantially worse this season. Atlético have won just seven of 14 against teams lower than seventh in the table, scoring only 17 goals in the process. Leganés have lost one game in the past eight and are a little closer to safety even as En-Nesyri departed for Sevilla. Lega have battled to draws in the past two league games away, and Atleti — low on confidence and able bodies — are there for the taking.
My record on the season 15-14
Date Jan. 26, 2020
Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
Kickoff time 12:00 p.m. CET, 11:00 a.m. GMT, 6:00 a.m. EST, 3:00 a.m. PST
Available TV/streaming Movistar+ (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), beIN Sports (United States), Eleven Sports 1 (Portugal), C More Play (Sweden), Sky HD (Mexico), Spor Smart HD (Turkey), QQ Sports Live (China)