Atlético Madrid will try to shake off a devastating Copa del Rey elimination in midweek by beating top-four aspirants Osasuna on Sunday afternoon.
Atlético (9-4-5, 31 points) have only league games left to play this season following the controversial midweek cup exit to Real Madrid. Meanwhile, Osasuna (8-4-6, 28 points) are on a high after knocking out Sevilla to advance to the Copa del Rey semifinals.
“There is a long second half of the season left. We’re facing an enthusiastic opponent, with a very consistent coach since he arrived, (they’re) always competitive, these are complicated games, and they have positive energy from being in the Cup semifinals,” Diego Simeone told the media on Saturday.
Fallout from Atlético’s Copa del Rey elimination has continued into the weekend. On Friday, club CEO Miguel Ángel Gil Marín blamed the performance of referee César Soto Grado and other external influences for the 3-1 defeat at the Santiago Bernabéu. When asked for his thoughts on his boss’s statement, Simeone explained that Gil was simply saying what others in and around the club are feeling.
“Since I have been here, I have never read statements like that from Miguel Ángel. Ever since I’ve been here, we’ve never looked for excuses, we have tried to do our part,” Simeone said. “Obviously, faced with an extremely clear situation, he expressed what in reality many are silent about, he felt it and said it quite naturally, which is the healthiest option.
“There are things that are very clear, and it seems that we are looking for excuses. We have never used excuses, let alone after playing a very good game like the one we did, the kind of game we had to play,” he continued. “Circumstances happened, nobody cares. It’s good that the voice of the club says what we all actually saw and see.”
On Sunday, Simeone won’t have the injured Marcos Llorente or defensive rock Stefan Savić, who was sent off against Madrid and is now nursing an injury of his own. El Cholo confirmed that his squad is fatigued, but after this weekend, the Rojiblancos should have much more time to rest and prepare for matches than they have been used to over the years.
One potential good omen for Atlético is the team’s 100 percent record against Osasuna since November 2016. Atleti have won all eight of its most recent matchups with the Navarrese side and have conceded only two goals in that span.
“The team is certainly tired, with significant stress, but we’re looking for the team to respond well. We have to play (on Sunday) at 4:15,” Simeone said.
Date Jan. 29, 2023
Location Estadio El Sadar, Pamplona, Navarre
Kickoff time 4:15 p.m. CET, 3:15 p.m. GMT, 10:15 a.m. EST, 7:15 a.m. PST