Atlético Madrid cannot return to LaLiga’s top four this weekend, but beating Osasuna on Saturday evening would get Diego Simeone’s men a bit closer.
“Tomorrow we have a new opportunity against a team that attacks frequently, with a lot of players in the penalty area, and is in a good moment,” Simeone said Friday.
Fifth-place Atlético (11-6-7, 39 points) are letting chance after chance slip as the sporting situation grows more dire. Wednesday’s loss to Levante saw Matheus Cunha suffer a right knee injury that is expected to keep him sidelined multiple weeks. Cholo has been unable to implement a new playing style or fully commit to the old one regardless of who’s on the pitch (though the constant absences haven’t helped), and rumors are swirling that he is losing the club’s support after more than 10 years on the touchline.
“We get together once or twice a month, and we talk about the good or bad situations facing the team,” Simeone said about his relationship with sporting director Andrea Berta and club CEO Miguel Ángel Gil Marín. “This is a bad time, but we have to move forward together.”
Osasuna (8-8-8, 32 points) sit ninth in LaLiga, on the fringes of the European places. Jagoba Arrasate’s side has won only twice at home all season, but Atlético have lost four of the past five away games and face even more selection questions on top of the poor form.
The Rojiblancos will not have Thomas Lemar on Saturday as the club awaits the result of the Frenchman’s COVID-19 test, and Mario Hermoso is unlikely to be risked (at least from the start) after only testing negative on Friday morning. The same goes for Yannick Carrasco. Beyond the COVID cases and injuries to Cunha and Daniel Wass, Rodrigo De Paul is suspended for yellow card accumulation.
But as Simeone indicated on Tuesday, Antoine Griezmann trained fully on Thursday and will be ready on Saturday for his first minutes since Jan. 6. Griezmann has not played a league game since the derby loss to Real Madrid on Dec. 12.
“We are facing a 14-game league in which there will be seven teams with the opportunity to enter the Champions League,” Simeone said. “We are staying united and looking for ways out of difficult moments like we had in (in 2020), when we had one point more than today, we were sixth, and we finished third.”
Date Feb. 19, 2022
Location Estadio El Sadar, Pamplona
Kickoff time 4:15 p.m. GMT, 3:15 p.m. CET, 10:15 a.m. EST, 7:15 a.m. PST