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Deportivo Alavés-Atlético Madrid: Colchoneros seek fifth win in seven

Koke is back in the squad as Atlético try to reclaim first place.

Getafe CF v Club Atletico de Madrid - La Liga Santander
Jan Oblak’s penalty save in Atlético’s last meeting with Alavés was one of the season’s key moments.
Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

A struggling Alavés is Atlético Madrid’s next opponent, and the two teams will kick off matchday seven at Mendizorrotza on Saturday afternoon.

Atlético (4-2-0, 14 points) can at least temporarily leapfrog Real Madrid into first place with another victory over 20th-place Alavés (0-0-5, 0 points). It is the second game this week in which Atleti will face a winless opponent, and this will be the team’s fifth game in 13 days.

“We don’t have excuses to explain what we cannot control, what we have to do is play and form a squad in response to all the competitions that there are,” Diego Simeone said Friday. “Alavés are a team in need...they have competed well in each game and I can’t imagine any other scenario (where that changes).”

RCD Espanyol v Deportivo Alaves - LaLiga Santander Photo by Xavi Urgeles/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

Alavés boss Javi Calleja is feeling the heat now after guiding the babazorros to safety last spring. His side’s recent record against Atlético — seven losses from the past eight meetings — does not make for pleasant reading from the coach’s point of view.

Atleti, on the other hand, continue to pick up points despite not playing all that well. In a further boost, Simeone gets to welcome back captain Koke and Geoffrey Kondogbia after injuries ruled them out of the midweek comeback at Getafe.

Thomas Lemar did not make the squad as he continues his recovery from a muscle pull, and Simeone included João Félix in the list even though the Portuguese’s two-game suspension was upheld Friday.

“I’m not in the business of finding solutions (to this),” Cholo said when asked about the stoppages and refereeing decisions in LaLiga this season. “We have to do what they allow us to do. The referees are there to handle the game as they see fit, and they are doing it well.”

Date: Sept. 25, 2021

Location: Mendizorrotza, Vitoria-Gasteiz, Basque Country

Kickoff time: 2:00 p.m. CEST, 1:00 p.m. BST, 8:00 a.m. EST, 5:00 a.m. PST

Available TV/Streaming: ESPN+ (United States), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom)