Atlético Madrid will square off against historical rival Athletic Club de Bilbao for a place in the Supercopa de España (de Saudi Arabia) final this weekend.
Atlético, assured a place after winning the 2020/21 league title, last participated in the four-team Supercopa two years ago. In Jeddah, the Colchoneros knocked off Barcelona in a memorable semifinal before falling in a penalty shootout to eternal rival Real Madrid.
Though Diego Simeone’s squad includes half a dozen canteranos (academy players), the indications from Madrid are that Simeone will field a strong lineup against Marcelino’s Athletic on Thursday night.
“When you wear the Atlético de Madrid shirt, every game is important,” Cholo said on Wednesday. “We only care about improving and winning the game we play tomorrow.”
Athletic, the Copa del Rey runners-up in 2020 and 2021, won the Supercopa last season. Iñaki Williams scored a thunderous goal in extra time to defeat Barça in the final at La Cartuja in Seville. That game also saw Lionel Messi sent off for the first time in his club career.
“It will be an intense game, a beautiful game,” Koke said in Wednesday’s press conference. ”(The teams) have known each other for a long time, we know (Marcelino). I am concerned about how we get into the game, about doing the things the coach asks us to do. The ‘favorites’ tag is a concern for the media.”
Atlético’s last Supercopa win was in 2014, when Cholo’s men defeated Madrid 2-1 on aggregate. Since the trophy’s reintroduction in 1982, Atleti have won it on only two occasions. The Rojiblancos have never met Los Leones in this competition, though the two sides did compete against one another in the Copa Eva Duarte, a predecessor to the modern-day Supercopa, back in 1950.
The previous meeting this season was an ill-tempered 0-0 draw at the Wanda Metropolitano in September.
Date Jan. 13, 2022
Location King Fahd Stadium, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Kickoff time 10:00 p.m. SAST, 8:00 p.m. CET, 2:00 p.m. EST, 11:00 a.m. PST