Crisis-ridden Atlético Madrid are out to end a four-game winless run in all competitions on Wednesday night, but Diego Simeone’s men will have to overcome bogey team Mallorca in the final league game before the FIFA World Cup.
Atlético (7-3-3, 24 points) managed to hang onto third place entering matchday 14 after pursuers Real Sociedad and Real Betis dropped points over the weekend. But the Colchoneros remain mired in a slump that began with last month’s Champions League grou stage elimination and worsened after Sunday’s 1-1 home draw with Espanyol — which saw Simeone’s side play with an extra man for over an hour and fail to win despite a 27-6 shots advantage.
“The criticism is normal, the opinion about being out of the Champions League and the Europa League, that it is a disaster is normal. It was definitely a frustration,” Simeone told the media on Tuesday. “We have to keep working and I have a clear idea of what I want.”
Mallorca (4-4-5, 16 points) are unbeaten in three games and sit comfortably enough in 12th place. Coached by former Atlético boss Javier Aguirre, Los Bermellones surprisingly survived last season’s relegation fight and held onto key contributors Lee Kang-In, Pablo Maffeo, and top scorer Vedat Muriqi — a Kosovo international whose seven goals this season would lead all Atlético players.
“They’re a very good opponent,” Simeone said. “Since his arrival, Aguirre has transmitted to Mallorca what he has, what we saw at Atleti and other clubs — experience, calmness, and the team having a clear idea of how it wants to play.”
Atlético were expected to have all but two players available for the trip to the islands. João Félix and José Giménez were already suspended for yellow card accumulation, while Saúl Ñíguez has returned to the team alongside Koke, who is recovered from a hamstring injury that sidelined him for three weeks. Geoffrey Kondogbia was a late omission due to a muscular injury.
Historically, Atlético have an awful record at Visit Mallorca Stadium (previously known as Son Moix). Since 2004, the Rojiblancos have won just twice from 11 meetings in Palma, and Mallorca famously won both games against Simeone’s team last season. Mallorca have not won three consecutive meetings with Atleti since 1998, and a loss here before the World Cup would practically extinguish any hope for challenging Real Madrid and FC Barcelona atop the league.
“Surely if we had had the forcefulness (in previous games this season) that we could have had, we could be closer in LaLiga ... We have to live based on the reality that we have, and we hope to take the game where we can hurt Mallorca,” Simeone said.
Date Nov. 9, 2022
Location Visit Mallorca Stadium, Palma de Mallorca, Balearic Islands
Kickoff time 9:30 p.m. CET, 8:30 p.m. GMT, 3:30 p.m. EST, 12:30 p.m. PST