Atlético Madrid’s fight for the top four resumes Saturday night, as the Rojiblancos welcome a dangerous Celta Vigo side to the Wanda Metropolitano.
“Our intention is to continue evolving, as the team has been doing over these last two games,” Diego Simeone told the media on Friday. “Consistency to keep our game steady is what we want.”
Fifth-place Atlético (12-6-7, 42 points) are coming off encouraging displays against Osasuna in LaLiga and Manchester United in the Champions League. The team’s attitude and intensity appear much-improved, and Simeone has also made positive tactical tweaks to his injury-riddled side.
“We come from making a very big effort (against United),” Simeone said. “Many guys ran significant kilometers in the match. Tomorrow, match day, we will decide in the morning who will start and they will carry it forward.”
Ninth-place Celta (8-8-9, 32 points) have not lost at the Metropolitano in nearly three years, and Chacho Coudet’s men need a win to keep alive their slim hopes of European qualification. Top scorer Iago Aspas is having another standout year for his boyhood club, as the 34-year-old has 11 goals and three assists while missing only one game all season.
“Tomorrow, we face an opponent that plays very well, players who position themselves very well to attack fast and continuously,” Simeone said. “I don’t expect anything other than a tough opponent with long spells of possession.”
Atlético can return to the top four with three points, and Simeone is set to shuffle the deck once more. With Koke still injured, Héctor Herrera should keep his place and Rodrigo De Paul is likely to re-enter the midfield. Yannick Carrasco will return to the 11 after his midweek suspension, and Antoine Griezmann is expected to make his first start since Dec. 12 next to in-form João Félix.
“LaLiga is always complicated. All the teams play very well, they are always improving and providing tougher competition for us. But the most important thing is to improve ourselves,” Simeone said.
Date Feb. 26, 2022
Location Estadio Wanda Metropolitano, Madrid
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST