Atlético Madrid’s season is paused no more. Diego Simeone and crew head to a silent San Mamés on Sunday to resume their fight for a top-four place.
A thrilling, unexpected (to say the least) win over world-beaters Liverpool in the Champions League sent Atlético into the coronavirus hiatus on a high note, but the team will have been rudely awakened by a harsh domestic reality. Los Rojiblancos sit sixth in LaLiga with 11 games remaining, and each one crammed into a five-week period.
Sevilla’s victory over Real Betis took Julen Lopetegui’s side five points clear of Atlético, but Getafe’s surprise loss to Granada on Friday means the mattress makers can leapfrog Geta into fifth with a win at Athletic Club. The Basques are firmly mid-table, sitting 10th entering the long-awaited 28th matchday.
Simeone has tried out a formation featuring Yannick Carrasco out wide and Marcos Llorente up top next to Diego Costa. The coach may not have defender Felipe or winger Vitolo, and will not have the suspended João Félix.
Off we go again!
Possible XI Oblak; Trippier, Giménez, Savić, Lodi; Thomas, Saúl, Koke, Carrasco; Llorente, Costa.
Prediction 1-0 Atlético. The unfortunate break in play did not come at a good time for Atleti, which had just rung up a rare road win at a roaring Anfield (how’s that for alliteration). We will find out if the team finds more comfort playing away at an empty stadium or if the results mirror the pre-Merseyside misery.
Both teams defend well, neither score with much regularity. There will likely be a preseason vibe about this one. But Ángel Correa seems to be fit after an injury scare last week, and I tap him as the lone goalscorer in what I expect to be a drab affair.
My record on the season 20-18
Date June 14, 2020
Location San Mamés, Bilbao, Basque Country, Spain
Kickoff time 2:00 p.m. CET, 1:00 p.m. GMT, 8:00 a.m. EST, 5:00 a.m. PST
Available TV/streaming Movistar LaLiga (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), beIN Sports (United States), Eleven Sports 1 (Belgium), Ziggo Sport Select (Netherlands), beIN Sports HD 1 (Qatar), PPTV Sport (China)