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De Paul, Kondogbia out of the Madrid Derby; Carrasco, Memphis set to play

Injuries hit Atlético once again.

Atletico de Madrid v Athletic Club - LaLiga Santander Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid on Wednesday confirmed midfielder Rodrigo de Paul has picked up a muscle injury that will rule him out of Saturday’s derby against Real Madrid.

De Paul joins left-back Sergio Reguilón (muscle tear) on the sidelines for this weekend’s key clash at the Santiago Bernabéu, a rematch of last month’s controversial Copa del Rey quarterfinal that saw Real Madrid eliminate Atlético from the competition.

Striker Memphis will be a game-time decision for Saturday as he battles through lingering soreness, though he trained normally on Thursday with his teammates. Yannick Carrasco had been training in the gym at Majadahonda due to a sore throat, but he also took full training 48 hours before the game. Diego Simeone has tested potential starting lineups that do not include either player.

De Paul has been fairly consistent since returning to Madrid from the FIFA World Cup in Qatar. He dropped man of the match-worthy displays in Atleti’s recent away wins over Osasuna and Celta Vigo, but he was substituted from Sunday’s 1-0 win over Athletic Club after feeling pain in his left thigh. Saturday’s derby will be the fifth league game de Paul has missed this season after he played in all but two during the 2021/22 campaign.

For now, it is teenager Pablo Barrios who seems best-placed to take de Paul’s spot in Simeone’s starting 11. Barrios impressed again in the victory versus Athletic, taking 42 touches and recovering the ball seven times in only 30 minutes. He also participated in the eventual winning goal, playing a one-two along the left flank with Antoine Griezmann as the Frenchman began his darting run into the penalty area.

Atletico de Madrid v Athletic Club - LaLiga Santander Photo by Angel Martinez/Getty Images

If Barrios does not start, Simeone can opt for Thomas Lemar (who has just recovered from a knee injury) to bring the ball out from deep. Or, he could choose a more defensive option — either the strength and physicality of Geoffrey Kondogbia, or Axel Witsel’s positional sense and precise passing.

But neither Kondogbia nor Witsel has been preferred recently as Atlético have embarked on a six-game unbeaten run in LaLiga. Witsel’s last start came in the 3-0 home win over Valladolid over a month ago, while Kondogbia has been an unused substitute in all three games this month and missed Friday’s training session with a suspected muscular problem. Diario AS has reported Kondogbia will miss the derby due to this new issue.