According to AS, Simeone will opt for an attacking look in Lisbon on Aug. 13. The 50-year-old supposedly will compensate for Thomas Partey’s likely absence by placing Koke and Saúl Ñíguez in central midfield while lining up Ángel Correa (right wing) and Yannick Carrasco (left) on either side. Cholo seems set to start Diego Costa and Marcos Llorente up top in the biggest game of the season — which means leading goalscorer Álvaro Morata and €126 million man João Félix will be on the bench.
Reporting over the past few days has indicated that Santiago Arias will beat out Kieran Trippier and start at right back. José Giménez and Stefan Savić might be the starting center backs, too, as Felipe Monteiro’s fluctuating fitness level has made Simeone more hesitant to select him automatically.
Simeone hates using Koke in the center of the pitch, but the captain has to play somewhere and Llorente has influenced Atlético’s attack in an unforeseen way since his Liverpool heroics. The Argentine will take a gamble if he has Carrasco cover for Renan Lodi, and that’s where Thomas’ injury hurts the team. A healthy Thomas would allow Simeone to save Carrasco and/or Correa and utilize their pace against the opposition’s tired legs.
Still, Cholo will be able to make impactful changes with all of Félix, Morata and Vitolo available at Estádio José Alvalade. If Atlético score a first half goal (or two or three), the coach will have reinforcements like Felipe and Héctor Herrera for that situation as well.