Atlético Madrid’s hectic October continues Tuesday with a home match against local rivals Rayo Vallecano.
Atlético (6-1-2, 19 points) seem to have a good handle on the nonstop pre-World Cup schedule. Though the Rojiblancos are still facing possible (if not likely) Champions League elimination at the group stage, they moved third in LaLiga after a throwback 1-0 win over Athletic Club at San Mamés.
And a victory over Andoni Iraola’s Rayo (3-2-4, 11 points) would be Atleti’s fourth in a row domestically, a run Diego Simeone has not overseen since March.
“The defensive strength that we had is taking shape,” Diego Simeone said Monday. “There are guys who deserve to play because they train well, like (Mario) Hermoso, but it will be up to everyone to (make their cases to) play.”
Rayo drew 0-0 against Getafe on Friday, which included a penalty miss from captain Óscar Trejo. Atlético’s neighbors — who took young striker Sergio Camello on loan from Atleti and have iconic former Colchonero Radamel Falcao in their ranks — have never won at the Metropolitano and last claimed victory in this fixture in 1999.
The Rojiblancos have not even conceded to Rayo in a league game since the 2014/15 season, taking all the points from the past seven meetings in LaLiga.
“We focus on what our rivals do very well,” Simeone said. “Rayo is a hard-working team, the best in LaLiga in ball recovery. Last season, they played at a high level for a while.”
Goalkeeper Jan Oblak’s status is uncertain after he suffered a likely concussion during Saturday’s win in Bilbao. Elsewhere, João Félix was thought to have suffered a muscle injury in the last match, but he trained on Sunday (though he is likely to make a sixth consecutive appearance off the bench).
Captain Koke — who is closing in on the club record for league appearances after surpassing Adelardo’s overall mark — sustained a thigh injury during the Athletic game and will not feature Tuesday. Like national teammate Marcos Llorente, his availability for Spain at the World Cup next month is now in question.
“We have to strengthen on the line we’re following,” Simeone said. “We need all our players, (we need) those who start and those who wait to come on (to have) the same enthusiasm.
“There are lots of games. Given that, we’ll do what can be done in the best way possible, which is when everyone gets involved.”
Date Oct. 18, 2022
Location Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano, Madrid
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. BST, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST
Available TV/streaming ESPN+ (United States), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), Optus Sport (Australia)