Atlético Madrid were dealt a blow during the week when Luis Suárez limped out of training and it was confirmed that he would miss a number of weeks. Marcos Llorente and Geoffrey Kondogbia will miss the upcoming game against Real Betis, too, due to suspension.
As Diego Simeone’s men limp toward LaLiga’s finish line, still clinging to the top spot, they were handed some good news with key players returning on Thursday.
Lucas Torreira, who has suffered through a difficult few weeks after his mother’s death from COVID-19, returned to the group to bolster Cholo’s options in midfield. The Uruguayan has publicly stated his desire to return to South America next season to play with Boca Juniors where he can be closer to his family. The 25-year-old has not convinced during his time in Madrid but might be important in the coming weeks as Atlético try to see off challenges from Barcelona and Real Madrid at the summit.
Stefan Savić, who missed last week’s game agains Sevilla, returns to the fold and looks like he will partner Mario Hermoso and José Giménez at the heart of Atlético’s defense. Yannick Carrasco is back from his own suspension, and along with Kieran Trippier, that quintet makes up Simeone’s first-choice defensive unit.
With Llorente and Suárez absent — and against a frisky Real Betis side — the rojiblancos will need to be solid at the back and improve on their return in attack from last weekend. Atleti were outshot and outplayed at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán, and Simeone has played the now-fit João Félix and Ángel Correa in attack ahead of the clash against Manuel Pellegrini’s side.
Moussa Dembélé remains on the margins after fainting at training last week. The Frenchman is on the road to recovery, but Atlético will take their time introducing him back into the fold.
The good news for Atlético is that Borja Iglesias, who has scored six goals in seven games, is doubtful for Sunday. Betis are sixth and level on points with Real Sociedad after a serious upturn in form. The verdiblancos are fighting for Europe, and will prove a challenge for a struggling Atlético.
Real Madrid and Barcelona play each other on Saturday night, and one or both will drop points. Atlético need to win against Betis to finish the weekend with a point advantage over their two biggest rivals. Atleti have collected 66 points, Barcelona are on 65 and Madrid are on 63 — so whatever happens Saturday, one of the Clásico side will have the same or possibly more points than Atlético on Sunday morning.