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Atletico Madrid v Manchester United: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League
Héctor Herrera’s strong performance against Manchester United could see him retain his place in the 11.
Photo by Jonathan Moscrop/Getty Images

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Atlético Madrid-Celta Vigo: A 13-game league

Atlético’s quest for the top four continues Saturday night.

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.

Atletico Madrid v Manchester United: Round Of Sixteen Leg One - UEFA Champions League Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

“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.

RC Celta de Vigo v Levante UD - La Liga Santander
Franco Cervi (R) of Celta de Vigo celebrates with Iago Aspas after scoring their side’s first goal during the La Liga Santander match between RC Celta de Vigo and Levante UD at Abanca Balaidos Stadium on February 21, 2022 in Vigo, Spain.
Photo by Jose Manuel Alvarez/Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

“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

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

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