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Atlético Madrid-Real Sociedad: League leaders visit the champions

A banged-up La Real side travels to the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday.

Atletico Madrid v Liverpool FC: Group B - UEFA Champions League
Antoine Griezmann has scored six goals against his old club Real Sociedad.
Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

After Tuesday’s Champions League disappointment, Atlético Madrid will welcome current league leaders Real Sociedad to the capital on Sunday night.

“La Real are working very well since (coach Imañol Alguacil) took over the team,” Diego Simeone said Saturday. “It is seen in the results, in the search for combinations within the play, with a lot of speed at the top, players who play very well and come from behind. Everything that Real Sociedad show year after year.”

Real Sociedad’s Spanish coach Imanol Alguacil reacts from the sidelines during the UEFA Europa League group B football match between SK Sturm Graz and Real Sociedad de Futbol in Graz, on October 21, 2021.
Photo by ERWIN SCHERIAU/APA/AFP via Getty Images

Last season, Atlético (5-2-1, 17 points) did the double over Real Sociedad (6-2-1, 20 points), including an essential home win in matchday 36 to keep the title push on track. But the txuri-urdin are in first place now as October winds down. Alguacil has done a tremendous job keeping the Basque side afloat despite a wave of injuries — captain Mikel Oyarzabal won’t be available Sunday, and neither will midfielder Martín Zubimendi. Asier Illarramendi and Nacho Monreal have not even played this season.

Marcos Llorente will miss out for Atlético after he re-injured his thigh during the Liverpool loss, and Stefan Savić is doubtful. For Simeone, the focus is on starting games well, no matter who plays — Atleti have fallen behind in six games this season (coming back to win three times) and have won only twice from six in the Wanda Metropolitano.

Atletico Madrid v Liverpool FC: Group B - UEFA Champions League Photo by Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

“That shows the team can find answers (after conceding first),” Cholo said. “(But) we are concerned about starting stronger and trying to take command on the scoreboard...I look to have defensive security so that the team is able to attack well.”

In training this week, Simeone has tried out a 4-3-3 including all of João Félix, Antoine Griezmann, and Luis Suárez on the forward line. Griezmann has yet to score in LaLiga since returning on loan from FC Barcelona, while Suárez will look to do damage after seeing only 10 minutes against Liverpool — El Pistolero has six goals and seven assists across 14 career appearances versus La Real.

Date Oct. 24, 2021

Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid

Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. BST, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST

Available TV/streaming ESPN+ (United States), Movistar LaLiga 1 (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom)