Injuries and suspensions continue to decimate Atlético Madrid, as the Rojiblancos get set to take on Real Sociedad in the Copa del Rey’s last 16.
Diego Simeone will be without five regular players for Wednesday night’s game at Reale Arena in San Sebastián. Antoine Griezmann, Geoffrey Kondogbia, and Marcos Llorente have all been ruled out with muscle injuries (though Griezmann’s return is getting closer), while José Giménez is suspended after he picked up a red card at the end of the Supercopa semifinal loss to Athletic Club. Stefan Savić returned to training on Monday, but he will miss his ninth straight game Wednesday.
All this means the deck appears stacked against Simeone’s men once again.
“We always feel more responsibility than pressure (to perform),” Cholo explained Tuesday. “Last season, back in March, everyone thought we were not going to be champions, and the team had the rebelliousness and the strength to hold on in the moment of difficulty when (Barcelona and Real Madrid) cut points from us. We found that not being champion seemed like a failure, and we became champions.
“The previous year, when the pandemic began, a similar situation happened to us in which we were very far from the Champions League places, and the team reacted well and responded again.
“I believe in the team, I believe in the footballers.”
Imanol Alguacil’s team has come back to earth after leading LaLiga for a time earlier this season. La Real will not be at full strength either, as uber-talented young forward Alexander Isak — who scored at the Wanda Metropolitano in a 2-2 draw earlier this season — will be unavailable for the txuri-urdin, looking to qualify for a second quarterfinal in three years.
Atlético have not been part of the Copa del Rey’s last eight since 2018.
“We have to be calm and patient and wait for (Atlético’s best version) to appear, because it will appear, and hopefully it will be tomorrow,” Simeone said.
Date Jan. 19, 2022
Location Reale Arena, San Sebastián, Gipuzkoa
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST