After a tense season-opening win at Celta Vigo last Sunday, Atlético Madrid will look to use a Wanda Metropolitano crowd to its advantage against Elche in matchday two.
“Starting a Sunday morning with your parents and friends and being able to go to the stadium is something beautiful,” Diego Simeone said Saturday. “Many people tomorrow will be able to meet friends and family again, enjoying that which they like. Let’s hope that tomorrow our people will be there...they need football, and we need fans.”
Atlético’s stadium will be reopened to 40 percent capacity, and more than 20,000 rojiblanco supporters are expected to be in the stands to see the team play for the first time in 533 days.
“Tomorrow, people begin to return to the stadium, having breakfast with their parents, friends, saying ‘I’m going to watch Atlético,’ and that generates joy,” Simeone said. “We need that energy.”
Fran Escribá’s Elche played out a goalless draw against Athletic Club to begin the season and confirmed Marseille forward Dario Benedetto’s arrival on loan earlier this week. Meanwhile, the league champions are still searching for another goal-scorer to complete their 2021/22 squad. Reports from Italy continue to link Atlético with Fiorentina’s prodigious Dušan Vlahović, but a deal for Hertha Berlin’s second striker Matheus Cunha definitely appears closer — the Brazilian was not included in Hertha’s squad for Saturday’s game versus Wolfsburg.
“The club works in accordance with what we have been discussing, and there are (several) days left in the transfer market,” Simeone said.
“We are focused on the Elche game. (There is) peace of mind, we know what we need, what we want, and now we only focus on Elche.”
Simeone discussed the physical condition of players like Luis Suárez and Kieran Trippier on Saturday and gave little indication either one is ready to start yet. The team worked in both 3-5-2 and 4-4-2 formations at training this week in response to Mario Hermoso’s suspension, with Marcos Llorente and Saúl Ñíguez working as traditional full backs. Rodrigo De Paul is in line to make his first Atlético start as a right-sided midfielder, while Geoffrey Kondogbia’s strong outing against Celta will see him hold his place in the 11.
“All coaches have to go looking for (each player’s) best form and assess what is best for the team for each game,” Simeone said. “We take care of physical preparation, and we will go game by game, looking for the best (solution) for the next match.”
Squad news João Félix, Héctor Herrera, and Felipe Monteiro remain unavailable through injury.
Date Aug. 22, 2021
Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid, Spain
Kickoff time 7:30 p.m. CEST, 6:30 p.m. BST, 1:30 p.m. EST, 10:30 a.m. PST