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UD Almería-Atlético de Madrid: Shorthanded Colchoneros seek big win

Simeone’s men travel to face an Almería side that has been strong at home.

Atletico de Madrid v FC Barcelona - LaLiga Santander Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images

Atlético Madrid face Almería on Sunday in the first competitive meeting between the two sides since 2015.

Atlético (8-3-5, 27 points) sit just outside the Champions League places with nearly half the season complete — and with a squad teetering toward transition. Atleti loaned João Félix to Chelsea following Sunday’s home loss to FC Barcelona and have yet to bring in a replacement for him or for Matheus Cunha, who joined Wolves earlier this month.

“I only wish João the best,” Diego Simeone told the media on Saturday. “He is young, he is excited to show his quality in the best way possible, and hopefully he’ll do well wherever he is.”

Simeone faces further selection conundrums against Almería (5-2-9, 17 points). Stefan Savić is unavailable through suspension, José Giménez is a doubt after experiencing muscle pain on Saturday, and Yannick Carrasco is definitely ruled out after suffering his own muscular injury earlier in the week.

“We are prepared for any situation we have to face,” Simeone said.

Spanish League: Atletico Madrid vs Almeria
Antoine Griezmann scored a brace in Atlético’s previous encounter with Almería: a 3-0 win at the Vicente Calderón on Feb. 21, 2015.
Photo by NurPhoto/Corbis via Getty Images

Almería have returned to LaLiga after a seven-year absence and sit two points out of the drop zone entering matchday 17. The Andalusian club sold star striker Umar Sadiq to Real Sociedad shortly after the season began, but coach Rubi has overseen a solid run of form since October. Almería have won four of the past six at the Power Horse Stadium (previously known as Estadio de los Juegos Mediterráneos), and Atlético have recorded only one win all-time at the venue.

Simeone’s lineup on Sunday could feature Atlético B center-back Marco Moreno in his first-team debut, and the Argentine remains enamored with young midfielder Pablo Barrios, who also trained in the provisional 11 this week. However, the 19-year-old is under the weather and may not make Sunday’s squad.

Up top, El Cholo could hand Ángel Correa his first start in the league since Oct. 29, pairing him with Antoine Griezmann as the club whittles down the coach’s options. Álvaro Morata is the only other available first-team forward.

“We talked to Andrea (Berta), Miguel (Ángel Gil) and Enrique (Cerezo), and they know what the team needs,” Simeone said.

Atlético’s sole victory from six prior visits to Almería came early in the 2014/15 season, when center-back João Miranda — who announced his retirement this week — nodded home a Koke corner on the hour for the game’s only goal.

Date Jan. 15, 2023

Location Power Horse Stadium, Almería, Andalusia

Kickoff time 4:15 p.m. CET, 3:15 p.m. GMT, 10:15 a.m. EST, 7:15 a.m. PST

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