Atlético de Madrid on Sunday afternoon have an opportunity to get back on track in the title race with a visit from LaLiga’s bottom side Almería.
Atlético Madrid (10-1-3, 31 points) have never lost a league game in the capital to Almería (0-4-11, 4 points) and will hope to extend its home winning streak in LaLiga to 17 consecutive games. Following last weekend’s loss to FC Barcelona, Atlético probably couldn’t have asked for a better opponent — on paper, at least.
“We’re focused on improving in defense as well as in attack, not just because of Sunday’s defeat but because the team this week is getting closer to what we need,” head coach Diego Simeone told the media on Saturday. “The team is working well.”
One thing Atlético really need is a return to form from Álvaro Morata, who has been ice-cold since returning from Spain duty last month. Morata last scored in the league over a month ago, in Atlético’s 2-1 defeat at Las Palmas, and Simeone on Saturday reiterated that Atleti have to have the 31-year-old’s goals to achieve anything meaningful this season.
“The other day, he had only one shot. We need to create chances,” Simeone said. “Morata needs the team, but the team needs a forceful Morata.”
Morata’s sliding form won’t see him dropped from the 11 on Sunday, as Simeone is poised to partner him with Ángel Correa and slot Antoine Griezmann into midfield. El Cholo will make changes to the defense after it allowed several big chances to Barcelona last weekend — Stefan Savić will return to the team after sitting out Atlético’s past five games, while César Azpilicueta is expected to start as the left-sided central defender in a bid to give Mario Hermoso some rest.
It is further anticipated that Reinildo Mandava will receive minutes on Sunday, which would be his first appearance in over nine months.
“Our objective is to follow the path and take the game to where we can do damage,” Simeone said. “The rival has needs, just like us. We hope to have a good game.”
The squad list for Atleti vs Almería. pic.twitter.com/PSISJfAqtU— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) December 9, 2023
Date Dec. 10, 2023
Location Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano, Madrid
Kickoff time 2:00 p.m. CET, 1:00 p.m. GMT, 8:00 a.m. EST, 5:00 a.m. PST
Available TV/streaming ESPN+ (United States), Movistar+ (Spain), Viaplay Sports 2 (United Kingdom)