Atlético Madrid pay a visit to Girona on Monday night in search of a fourth win in five league games — and a first-ever victory at Montilivi.
Atlético (13-6-5, 45 points) punctuated its recent good form with a 6-1 victory over relegation-threatened Sevilla last Saturday. Girona (8-6-10, 30 points), back in LaLiga after a three-year absence, have played some exciting football this season and are positioned to escape the relegation scrap that has enveloped more than one-third of LaLiga’s teams.
One Girona player to keep an eye on is Rodrigo Riquelme, who is on loan from Atlético and scored in the reverse fixture back in October. The 22-year-old seems likely to return to his parent club this summer following his first full season playing in the Spanish top flight.
“Riquelme is an energetic player, he had a fantastic preseason,” Diego Simeone told the media on Sunday. “At Atlético, we had players in his position and the best decision was for him to go and play in a team where he could have minutes, with a manager (Míchel) who has given him confidence. He has evolved a lot.”
Atlético are guaranteed to remain in LaLiga’s top four through the weekend, ahead of both Real Sociedad and Real Betis, two teams that suffered tough losses in the Europa League round of 16 in midweek. La Real’s Sunday afternoon draw at Mallorca brought the Basque side level on points with Atleti, but the Colchoneros can go a full three points clear with a victory at Girona.
“We knew that we were playing on Monday, we’re facing a team that plays well, from the midfield (going) forward they have a game that closely corresponds to their coach’s beliefs,” Simeone said. “They play with courage, they play with pressure on the ball, and we have to take the game to where we believe we can hurt them.”
Click here to listen to the pregame bonus pod on Patreon, featuring a João Félix update, Pablo Barrios’s first interview with Marca, and much more.
Simeone looks set to repeat the same 11 from the Sevilla game last week, partnering Antoine Griezmann up top with Memphis and rolling out a midfield trio of Koke, Thomas Lemar, and Axel Witsel. Ángel Correa will be back in contention after he served a one-game suspension last week, while Rodrigo de Paul is back from injury and is set for his first minutes since Feb. 19.
“There is a path on which the team, in the last two or three months, has felt more comfortable and safe,” Simeone said. “We need de Paul because of his personality, because of his vision in the game. There is a lot of competition for places, and that is the best thing that can happen to us. It allows us to compete better if we manage to sustain it.”
Estos son los convocados por Diego Pablo @Simeone para el #GironaAtleti. pic.twitter.com/b7AMC51AJ8— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) March 13, 2023
Date March 13, 2023
Location Estadi Montilivi, Girona, Catalonia
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 4:00 p.m. EST, 1:00 p.m. PST
Available TV/streaming ESPN+ (United States), DAZN (Spain), LaLiga TV (United Kingdom)