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Atlético Madrid-Girona FC: Simeone seeking solutions

The Rojiblancos’ up-and-down season brings them back to the Metropolitano on Saturday.

2022-10-04 Club Brugge KV v Atletico Madrid - Group B - UEFA Champions League
Diego Simeone’s Atlético have beaten Girona only once in six tries.
Photo by Joris Verwijst/Orange Pictures

After a sobering midweek loss to Club Brugge in the Champions League, Atlético Madrid return to Spain and welcome Girona to the Metropolitano on Saturday afternoon.

This will be the first meeting between Atlético (4-1-2, 13 points) and Girona (2-1-4, 7 points) in over three years. That game from April 2019, a 2-0 home win for the Colchoneros, is the only victory Atleti have ever secured against the Catalan side. The other five meetings, in LaLiga and the Copa del Rey, all ended in draws.

Young midfielder Roro Riquelme is playing on loan for the newly-promoted side, and the academy graduate scored a golazo in Girona’s eventual loss to Real Sociedad last weekend.

Girona FC v Real Sociedad - LaLiga Santander Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images

“(Roro) is a kid with enthusiasm, hunger, and a desire to continue growing,” Diego Simeone told the media on Friday. “We talked to him before the season started and told him the reality of situation in the team. Many players play in the position he occupies, and the growth he was going to need would have stopped (had he stayed). I think we all made the right choice, because he is playing and growing with a great coach in a team that plays to his strengths.”

Míchel’s Girona are yet to win away from home this season, while Atlético have already lost twice at the Metropolitano in LaLiga. With the Rojiblancos likely playing for their Champions League future when Brugge come to town on Wednesday, Simeone seems likely to change the 11 once again.

Mario Hermoso is probable to step in for one member of the oft-injured José Giménez-Stefan Savić duo, while Ángel Correa is expected to start with Marcos Llorente (muscle tear) out at least until the World Cup. Additionally, Saúl Ñíguez has a chance to play from the opening kick — Atlético have yet to concede a goal with him on the pitch, in LaLiga or in the Champions League.

Atletico de Madrid v Real Madrid CF - LaLiga Santander Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

But local reports say Antoine Griezmann — who will soon become an Atlético player on a permanent deal — will keep his place in the 11, starting alongside Álvaro Morata.

“We know Griezmann’s importance within our team,” El Cholo said. “Hopefully he can continue to improve and grow, because he is on that path.”

Date Oct. 8, 2022

Location Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano, Madrid

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

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