After a wild ending to Wednesday night’s Champions League win versus Porto, Atlético Madrid will next try to kick-start its league campaign against Chacho Coudet’s Celta Vigo on Saturday night.
“I understand everything very clearly, I’ve been at Atlético de Madrid for a long time and they don’t need to tell me anything,” Diego Simeone told the media on Friday. “What we have to do is make sure that our people are entertained, that they get ‘hooked’ on the team. It depends only on us, as a coaching staff and as a team.”
Atlético (2-1-1, 7 points) were held in a controversial draw at Real Sociedad last weekend and have more injury concerns ahead of matchday 5 action. Defenders Sergio Reguilón and Stefan Savić remain unavailable for selection, while José Giménez will not feature as he deals with reported lower back pain.
Atlético have not lost to Celta (2-1-1, 7 points) since a 2-0 defeat at Balaídos in September 2018. Los Celestes have never beaten the Rojiblancos in the Metropolitano, last leaving Madrid with three points in 2007.
“Celta are working very well, they’ve competed very well each game,” Simeone said. “We are going to face a team that plays very well with the ball and has a coach with very clear ideas about what he is looking for from his team. That’s the only thing that really concerns us.”
Slowing down Celta’s top scorer Iago Aspas will take some doing, especially with two center-backs unavailable. The injuries could prompt Simeone to hand Mario Hermoso a rare start after the defender came off the bench to score the 92nd-minute opening goal on Wednesday (moments before giving away a penalty for handball).
With another Champions League game next week in Germany against Bayer Leverkusen, the moment could be right for Simeone to shuffle the pack and offer extended minutes to players like Hermoso, Felipe, Ángel Correa, Matheus Cunha, Geoffrey Kondogbia, or even Antoine Griezmann — who has come off the bench for half an hour or less in all five games this season.
“Hermoso is a clear example that, with work, things can change,” El Cholo said. “Last season, with Reinildo’s arrival, he had strong competition and had to wait for his chance. He’s working very well, he’s showing it when we have put him in, whether there have been 15, 10, or 12 minutes left in the game.
“We’re going to need everyone, because the team needs energy and vitality to give the fans what they want to see.”
Date Sept. 10, 2022
Location Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano, Madrid
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. BST, 3:00 p.m. EST, 12:00 p.m. PST