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Cádiz CF-Atlético de Madrid: There’s still LaLiga

How will Atlético bounce back from Wednesday’s humiliating Champions League exit?

Atletico Madrid v Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Group B - UEFA Champions League
Is there any way back for João Félix at Atlético? Simeone’s selections on Saturday might tell us.
Photo by Alvaro Medranda/Eurasia Sport Images/Getty Images

After suffering an ignominious home exit in the UEFA Champions League, Atlético Madrid next visit struggling Cádiz at the Nuevo Mirandilla.

The mentality of Atlético (7-2-2, 23 points) will be under scrutiny on Saturday afternoon, the Colchoneros on Wednesday having suffered a second Champions League group stage elimination in five years following chaotic late scenes against Bayer Leverkusen.

Atletico Madrid v Bayer 04 Leverkusen: Group B - UEFA Champions League Photo by Berengui/DeFodi Images via Getty Images

“There’s great disappointment in not reaching the round of 16, which is one of the club’s goals, and something we have done on eight occasions (in 10 previous years),” Diego Simeone told the media on Friday. “We have a league game ahead of us tomorrow, an important game where we have to continue to focus on the path we have been taking since Sevilla.

“I understand that the team is doing things very well. I still think the team is fine. In this moment we have to be strong, we have to be calm, and we have to work.”

Simeone’s men could find respite against floundering Cádiz (1-4-6, 7 points) and consolidate their position in LaLiga’s top three. Saturday’s hosts are winless in five and lost 5-1 at Rayo Vallecano in matchday 11.

Rayo Vallecano v Cadiz CF - LaLiga Santander Photo by DAX Images/NurPhoto via Getty Images

No team has scored fewer goals this season (5) than Sergio González’s Yellow Submarine, and Atlético have won all four meetings with the Andalusians since their promotion in 2020. In fact, Atlético’s last loss in this fixture occurred in March 1989.

Atlético remain among LaLiga’s top teams away from home. Last weekend’s 2-1 win at Real Betis bumped the Colchoneros’ record away from the Metropolitano to 5-1-0. They have conceded only twice from those six games. Atleti have not started a season this strongly on the road since 1995/96 — when the team went on to win a famous league and cup double with Simeone anchoring the midfield.

“I don’t think about anything other than what lies ahead,” El Cholo said. “A great Spanish writer used to say: ‘I don’t care what they think of me.’ I think exactly the same way. I know what I give, I know what I can deliver.”

For this contest, Simeone remains unable to count on injured midfield trio Koke, Thomas Lemar, and Marcos Llorente — though Llorente trained normally Friday, less than a month after suffering a severe hamstring strain. Stefan Savić is expected to return to the 11 after surprisingly missing out on the Leverkusen game.

João Félix has three goals in three career appearances against Cádiz, but the Portuguese remains firmly out of favor and Atlético’s expected revenue loss following the early Champions League elimination could see the talented forward move as soon as January.

Movistar cameras caught João asking Yannick Carrasco for the ball when Atleti were awarded a late penalty against Leverkusen, but the Belgian refused to hand it over and later missed the spot kick.

“That he asked for the ball to take the penalty shows attitude in a situation that could decide a game, but attitude is much bigger than one situation,” Simeone said.

Date Oct. 29, 2022

Location Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla, Cádiz, Andalucía

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

Available TV/streaming ESPN+ (United States), DAZN (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom), Optus Sport (Australia)