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Cádiz CF-Atlético Madrid: Possible trap game at the Ramón de Carranza

Due once more to COVID, the rojiblancos find themselves shorthanded.

Atletico de Madrid v Valencia CF - La Liga Santander
Luis Suárez (one goal) and João Félix (two goals, one assist) ripped Cádiz apart in a 4-0 win on Nov. 7.
Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid are going to have to be careful on Sunday afternoon, as Diego Simeone’s patchwork defense will aim to avoid slipping on any banana peels at Cádiz.

Atlético confirmed Saturday morning that Yannick Carrasco and Mario Hermoso have tested positive for COVID-19 after the duo returned inconclusive tests Friday. Not coincidentally, two Valencia players had tested positive for COVID after last Sunday’s game in Madrid. Carrasco and Hermoso are the eighth and ninth current first team players to contract the novel coronavirus since summer 2020 — Diego Simeone has had it, too, as did Diego Costa when he played for Atleti last year.

“We have said it since the season started, we are going to have to live with it and we have to be prepared and look for solutions,” Simeone said Saturday about the virus’ impact. “(Carrasco and Hermoso) were in good form, they have qualities that are good for the team. But they have teammates who are very good, and they will get a chance.”

Atletico de Madrid v Getafe CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Atlético (15-2-1, 47 points) are making its first trip to Cádiz (6-6-8, 24 points) since 2006. Simeone’s men haven’t lost at Estadio Ramón de Carranza since 1989 — Simeone was a teenager then, playing for Velez Sársfield in his native Argentina.

“We know the difficulties that we will have in Cádiz, against an opponent that is strong in defense and will take advantage of any counter, the aerial game or combination football on the flanks,” Simeone said. “We will have to take the game to where we think we can secure it.”

Simeone was noncommittal when asked whether he would change tack with Carrasco and Hermoso shelved for the time being. It wouldn’t necessarily be a shock to see Cholo revert to the 4-4-2 considering the absences — which still include the suspended Kieran Trippier — but the 3-5-2 has worked wonders for the team, which is looking to win its eighth straight league game Sunday.

Fortunately for Simeone, Saúl should be ready to go after recovering from a previously-unannounced injury which saw him miss out against Valencia last week.

“Last week, Saúl had severe back pain (after the Eibar game),” Simeone said. “I understood that he needed time to recover. On Thursday he trained with everyone, and he is available again.

“There is a lot of competition, they are all very good footballers and the competition lies in each one taking advantage of every minute (on the pitch).”

The squad

Date Jan. 31, 2021

Location Estadio Ramón de Carranza, Cádiz, Andalucía

Kickoff time 4:15 p.m. CET, 3:15 p.m. GMT, 10:15 a.m. EST, 7:15 a.m. PST

Available TV/streaming Movistar+ (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), beIN Sports (United States