Atlético Madrid welcome relegation candidates Valencia to the Metropolitano on Saturday night, seeking a fifth win in six league games heading into the international break.
“Valencia have been working well since (coach Rubén) Baraja’s arrival. He knows the club, he knows what they need, and they’ve had a good response,” Diego Simeone told the media on Friday. “It will be a tough, close game against a team that counterattacks very well.”
It has been over eight years since Atlético (14-6-5, 48 points) last lost to Valencia (7-5-13, 26 points), and it’s been even longer — 12 years — since Los Che came to Madrid and took all three points from this fixture. Atleti will extend its unbeaten run in LaLiga to 10 games if they avoid defeat against Baraja’s men, who will likely slip back into the relegation zone with a loss.
Loanee Samuel Lino is the one Valencia player that many Atlético supporters will be keeping an eye on. The 23-year-old winger has had an exciting first season in LaLiga and is set to fight for a place in Atleti’s first team next year.
“He is responding well, as Rodrigo Riquelme has in Girona. He did well with Gennaro Gattuso and he’s remained at a good level with Baraja,” Simeone said. “He puts in a great effort for the team, he has grown a lot in Valencia.”
Simeone confirmed that Rodrigo de Paul will start Saturday as he steps up his recovery from injury. The World Cup winner is expected to take Thomas Lemar’s place in the 11 in what will potentially be the only change from the team that beat Girona at Montilivi on Monday. Álvaro Morata, the only Atlético player called up to Luis de la Fuente’s Spain squad, is likely to be named a substitute for the fifth consecutive game.
El Cholo is one booking away from a suspension, along with three of his likely starters — de Paul, Koke, and Stefan Savić. A yellow card for any would render them unavailable for Real Betis’s visit after the international break.
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¡Estos son los futbolistas citados para el encuentro de hoy contra el Valencia! pic.twitter.com/osAABQrhEU— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) March 18, 2023
Date March 18, 2023
Location Estadio Cívitas Metropolitano, Madrid
Kickoff time 9:00 p.m. CET, 8:00 p.m. GMT, 4:00 p.m. EST, 1:00 p.m. PST