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Club Atletico de Madrid v Getafe CF - La Liga Santander
Jan Oblak has kept only six clean sheets this season.
Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

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Atlético Madrid-Levante UD: A crucial make-up game

Two beleaguered defenses match up in a pivotal rescheduled fixture.

Atlético Madrid have not won back-to-back games in nearly six weeks — a stretch that can end Wednesday night against Levante.

Atlético (11-6-6, 39 points) produced a rousing rally in Saturday’s win over local rivals Getafe and are positioned to close to within a point of third place Real Betis. But standing in the Rojiblancos’ way is last-place Levante (1-8-14, 11 points), and the Granotas have not lost any of the past three meetings with Atleti.

“When everyone gets nervous, I am calm,” Diego Simeone told the media on Tuesday.

Should Atlético win this game in hand, Simeone’s men would (at least temporarily) open up breathing room between themselves and Barcelona, Real Sociedad, and Villarreal. However, Atleti remain undermanned. Felipe Monteiro is suspended. Neither Antoine Griezmann (hamstring injury) nor Yannick Carrasco (COVID-19) is ready for action. And though José Giménez tested negative for COVID on Tuesday morning, Mario Hermoso tested positive in the evening and both defenders will be unavailable.

Club Atletico de Madrid v Getafe CF - La Liga Santander Photo by Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Levante coach Alessio Lisci is without multiple players as well — defenders Carlos Clerc and Rubén Vezo are injured, and star midfielder José Campaña has not played since Jan. 8. Well-traveled forward Roberto Soldado is suspended.

“Beyond the results in LaLiga, Levante are attacking well, always generating scoring chances,” Simeone said. “We will have to pay attention to these situations because they have players with speed, they play between the lines, and they play well from the midfield to the forward line.”

Ángel Correa and Matheus Cunha both scored in the Getafe game, and Simeone is expected to turn to the duo once more Wednesday night. While Stefan Savić’s central defense partner is unknown, Šime Vrsaljko’s likely re-entry into the starting 11 will push Marcos Llorente into midfield — the Spain international still has not scored a goal all season after ringing up 12 in 2020/21. He scored in the 1-1 draw at Levante last February, and the visitors have conceded a league-worst 50 goals already in 2021/22.

“Griezmann is coming back, on Thursday he will train with the group,” Simeone said. “Apart from Correa and Matheus, who are working well, we have Luis (Suárez), João (Félix), important players. It is always good for the team if the competition is better between the players.”

Date Feb. 16, 2022

Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid

Kickoff time 7:00 p.m. CET, 6:00 p.m. GMT, 1:00 p.m. EST, 10:00 a.m. PST

Available TV/streaming ESPN+ (United States), Movistar LaLiga (Spain), Premier Sports 1 (United Kingdom)

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