Just 72 hours after a beatdown at Bayern Munich, Atlético Madrid will host Real Betis and try to extend a club record-tying domestic unbeaten streak.
Wednesday’s 4-0 rout left a sour taste, but all is not lost — certainly not in LaLiga, where Atlético are the division’s only unbeaten side. Los Colchoneros have not been defeated in a league game since February, a 20-game run.
“I absolutely trust the team, beyond the defeat, painful due to the sizable result, in Munich,” Diego Simeone said Friday. “I took many positive things from the game, and I totally believe in the team we have.”
Atlético have won six of the past seven league contests against Betis, which has started life under Manuel Pellegrini in typically-erratic form. The Andalusian side has three wins and played well in an unfortunate loss to Real Madrid on the third matchday, but suffered 3-0 defeats to Getafe and current leaders Real Sociedad.
“We are not going to change strategy and take refuge in our own third,” Pellegrini said in his press conference. “We will go for the game and we want to take the initiative.”
The last time Simeone’s men were beaten 4-0, they proceeded to go on a four-month run without a loss. And with just two days off between games this week, Cholo certainly won’t take anything for granted.
“We are going to face a team that with Pellegrini has improved a lot, beyond the results,” the Argentine said. “It is a dangerous team because it has a very good offensive, associative game.”
Atlético are set to welcome back José Giménez, who has struggled for match fitness after his bout with COVID-19. Saúl Ñíguez is set to miss his third straight game, and Diego Costa remains sidelined with a hamstring pull. On Saúl — whose status has been somewhat of a mystery — Simeone gave no indication that he will be ready to go imminently.
“We will wait (for Saúl), as we need him to be okay,” Simeone said. “We don’t need a footballer who is at 80 percent. We need him 100 percent, and that he be available for the effort that each game asks for, because each game is a final.”
The past six meetings (home and away) have seen Betis score just once from open play. Ángel Correa has scored against Saturday’s visitors in each of the past two seasons. Luis Suárez has scored 10 goals from seven lifetime appearances against the verdiblancos.
Possible XI Oblak; Trippier, Felipe, Savić, Lodi; Torreira, Koke, Correa, Vitolo; Félix, Suárez.
Date Oct. 24, 2020
Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid
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 Movistar Partidazo (Spain), iQiyi (China), beIN Sports Connect (New Zealand), SuperSport LaLiga (Nigeria), beIN Sports en Español (United States), ESPN2 Sur (Uruguay)