After completing a three-game road trip, Atlético Madrid welcome Real Sociedad to Estadio Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday night, as the tightest title race in years enters its final three games.
Atlético (23-8-4, 77 points) must win to remain first and consolidate that position atop LaLiga. However, Atleti haven’t won three consecutive meetings against Real Sociedad (15-11-9, 56 points) since 2016. Los colchoneros drew this fixture in the 2019/20 season finale before winning at Reale Arena in December.
“I think that we have come from playing a very good game in Barcelona,” Diego Simeone said Tuesday, trying to dodge questions about the refereeing controversies that marred Sunday’s 2-2 draw between Real Madrid and Sevilla. “Hopefully, we come out strong and continue in this manner.”
La Real won the Copa del Rey in April — the club’s first major title since 1987 — and sit fifth in LaLiga. Captain Mikel Oyarzabal will make his 200th league appearance in this game — the winger spearheads the team’s attack and scored the cup-clinching penalty last month. Veteran midfielder David Silva has played in just over half the team’s league games, but his impact across just under 1,300 minutes has been immense — the 35-year-old has laid on four assists and is responsible for nearly four shot-creating actions per 90 minutes. The txuri-urdin have conceded only six goals all season with him on the pitch.
“(La Real) are a team that plays very well, (they are) very dynamic,” Simeone said. “They always play with two inside forwards accompanying (Alexander) Isak. Silva gives them a lot of vision within the game and (gives the team) personality. They have many enthusiastic young players and I like how they play.
“It will be a tough game.”
Koke, Saúl, Mario Hermoso, and Stefan Savić are all one booking away from incurring an automatic suspension. All four are expected to start Wednesday night, so that quartet will have to be cautious. The only definite absentee against La Real will be Thomas Lemar, whose muscle injury is expected to keep him out until the season finale on May 23.
Like Oyarzabal on the other side, Koke is set to reach his own appearances milestone — on Wednesday, Atlético’s captain will suit up for his boyhood club for the 500th time.
“About Koke, what can I say?” Simeone said. “He is the last one left from the first day I arrived at the club. We have been sharing this same passion. And from the first day I saw him, I thought he could be important for the club. I am very proud of him, of what is happening to him.”
State of the squad José Giménez did not play against Barcelona, but he returned to full training on Tuesday and is expected to be available. Otherwise, Simeone has the full squad at his disposal. Mikel Merino (spinal fracture) and January signing Carlos Fernández (muscular injury) will miss out for Real Sociedad.
Date May 12, 2021
Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid
Kickoff time 10:00 p.m. CEST, 9:00 p.m. GMT, 4:00 p.m. EST, 1:00 p.m. PST
Available TV/streaming Movistar LaLiga 3 (Spain), ESPN Sur (Argentina), Eleven Sports 1 (Portugal), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), beIN Sports (United States), QQ Sports Live (China)