Atlético Madrid’s Copa del Rey campaign continues Wednesday against LaLiga Smartbank side Real Oviedo in the competition’s round of 32.
Atlético are attempting to reach the Copa del Rey’s last 16 for a second consecutive season, while Oviedo last reached the round of 16 in the 2002/03 campaign. Atleti will be without a trio of players, as João Félix, Stefan Savić, and Rodrigo de Paul will not travel to Asturias due to physical ailments.
“I see an Oviedo that has been doing well (since manager Álvaro Cervera’s arrival), with good results, a solid and strong defense, experienced forwards, and hard-working players on the flanks,” Diego Simeone told the media on Tuesday. “We can’t imagine another game than that which we’ve prepared for, and we’ll go out there with the desire that we have in this competition.”
Cervera has made Oviedo a more defensively-sound unit, and Los Azules find themselves on the fringes of promotion playoff contention from Spain’s second tier. Oviedo — captained by former Atlético forward Borja Bastón — beat fourth-tier Gimnástica Torrelavega and fellow Segunda side Granada to reach this stage of the competition.
“This season, we have gone from ‘consistent’ to ‘bad,’ and we need to improve and grow,” Simeone said. “In this competition we have the enthusiasm and desire of being able to advance. The league will be complicated and difficult, there are many teams competing for the objectives that we want.”
Simeone on Tuesday trained with an 11 that included burgeoning young midfield star Pablo Barrios, who seems set to start again at the new Carlos Tartiere on Wednesday night. World Cup winner Nahuel Molina seems ready to return, as does Axel Witsel, who missed last week’s league game against Elche through illness.
El Cholo is likely to push Antoine Griezmann up onto the forward line to partner Álvaro Morata, who scored Atlético’s second goal in the win over Elche — and given the noise around João Félix’s future, the coach knows that Atleti’s squad makeup might soon look very different.
“For coaches, it’s important to have peace of mind and know what is going to happen,” he said. “The manager needs to know which players he can count on.”
Date Jan. 4, 2023
Location Estadio Carlos Tartiere, Oviedo, Asturias, Spain
Kickoff time 8:00 p.m. CET, 7:00 p.m. GMT, 2:00 p.m. EST, 11:00 a.m. PST