Atlético Madrid’s COVID-19 absentees are beginning to make their way back into the squad, as both Yannick Carrasco and Mario Hermoso will be available at Granada on Saturday.
Hermoso was cleared to return to training on Friday after testing negative for coronavirus, while Carrasco has been back with the team all week. Diego Simeone was coy on whether his top ball-playing center back would return immediately to the starting 11 — but Hermoso’s chances surely increased after José Giménez was ruled out with a minor injury.
Regardless, Simeone will seek a response from his defense, which has conceded six times in four games — including an 89th minute equalizer against Celta Vigo on Monday.
“What Atlético have shown, in these years where we have managed the team, is that the players’ quality appears from our defensive strength,” Simeone said Friday.
“It’s very difficult for the numbers from the second half of the season to be similar to those from the first half,” Cholo said. “There is always something different (that happens). The second half of a league season demands a lot (from a team).”
Atlético (16-3-1, 51 points) still top LaLiga and have two games in hand over reigning champions Real Madrid. Granada (8-6-8, 30 points) received fresh injury-related blows on Friday — neither Roberto Soldado nor (Colombian) Luis Suárez will be available for Diego Martínez. That duo has combined for nearly 40 percent of Granada’s league goals this season. The muscular injuries might not help the Andalusian side’s efforts to beat Atlético at home in LaLiga for the first time since 1973, and the news certainly is not welcome as Martínez’s men get set to play Napoli in the Europa League midweek.
“What concerns us is winning a game against a team that competes very well at home, did well in the Copa and (is still in) the Europa League, with a coach who has very clear ideas and can play with different systems,” Simeone said.
Atlético have won 12 of the past 15 encounters with Granada, including the first meeting this season.
Date Feb. 13, 2021
Location Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes, Granada, Andalucía
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 1 (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), beIN Sports (United States), DIRECTV Sports (Uruguay), iQiyi (China)