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In-form Athletic visit shorthanded Atlético

The league champions host los leones in matchday five.

Atletico Madrid v FC Porto: Group B - UEFA Champions League Photo by Rubén de la Fuente Pérez/NurPhoto via Getty Images

This game preview also serves as our live gamethread — start a conversation in the comments!

There’s little rest for Atlético Madrid’s weary, as los colchoneros welcome Athletic Club to the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday afternoon.

Atlético (3-1-0, 10 points) are playing its third game in a week and are coming off a drab goalless draw against FC Porto on Wednesday. Thomas Lemar left that game injured and will be out for the next 10 days with a muscle pull, while Koke departed before the hour and missed training on Wednesday and Thursday.

“We had games with very good moments, like in Vigo, against Villarreal, the second half against Espanyol, moments with Elche and Porto,” Simeone said on Friday. “We need, like everyone else, consistency. It is the most difficult (to get) when competitions have just started.”

Atletico Madrid v FC Porto: Group B - UEFA Champions League Photo by Diego Souto/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images
Athletic de Bilbao v Real Mallorca - La Liga Santander Photo by David S. Bustamante/Soccrates/Getty Images

Athletic (2-2-0, 8 points) split two meetings with Atlético last season, dropping a 2-1 result in Madrid before winning the rematch in April by the same scoreline. The Basques have conceded only once from four games this season, and they have really taken to coach Marcelino’s methods and high-intensity playing style in his first full season at the club.

Forward Iñaki Williams — who assisted a goal in the first meeting last season and generally plays well against Atleti — is set to make his 200th consecutive appearance for Athletic in this game.

“They play dynamic football,” Simeone said of Athletic. “It’s a team that will compete with the best.”

Stefan Savić will return to Simeone 11 after missing the midweek Champions League game through suspension. Kieran Trippier also looks set to start after a digestive issue held him out of Wednesday’s match. Geoffrey Kondogbia — arguably Atlético’s star early-season performer — should hold his place in midfield after a sterling display against Porto, and Cholo publicly mused over playing João Félix and Antoine Griezmann together.

“They absolutely can play together, and eventually (their minutes) on the field will coincide,” the coach said.

Confirmed squad

Date Sept. 18, 2021

Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid

Kickoff time 4:15 p.m. CEST, 3:15 p.m. BST, 10:15 a.m. EST, 7:15 a.m. PST

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