Atlético Madrid wrap up the 2022/23 season on Sunday night with a visit to Villarreal’s La Cerámica.
Atlético (23-7-7, 76 points) have already clinched a place in next season’s Supercopa de España courtesy of last week’s win over Real Sociedad. But second place — and an additional €8 million or so — is still up for grabs. With a win over Villarreal (19-6-12, 63 points) and a Real Madrid (24-5-8, 77 points) draw or loss to Athletic Club, Atleti will break into the top two for the second time in three seasons — and the fifth time in Diego Simeone’s 11 full seasons as head coach.
“Finishing second is not the same as finishing third,” Simeone told the media on Saturday. “We’ve had a good season, although we couldn’t meet our goals in Europe. It was not a coincidence that we were eliminated. We have to see how we can improve for the future. We had a good run in the Copa del Rey, and in LaLiga we met the goal of finishing in the top four. It will have been a very good season if we finish second, and a good season if we’re third.”
Villarreal are already locked into fifth place and Europa League football for next season, but Simeone has no doubt advised his players that a professional job will be required against a quality side that Atlético have not beaten since February 2021. And a win could be a nice parting gift for several squad members who have linked with transfer away, including Geoffrey Kondogbia, Thomas Lemar, Álvaro Morata, Saúl Ñíguez, and Yannick Carrasco.
Simeone confirmed in a late-night interview on Cadena COPE this week that Carrasco is considering taking the chance to join FC Barcelona this summer, which will impact the club’s plans in the summer transfer window.
“For next season, we’re not going to change much from what we currently have,” El Cholo said on Saturday. “Let’s hope that whoever comes will help us take another step in the right direction.”
A healthy Atlético could be in position to challenge for silverware next season, but the current group has numerous absences entering the final matchday. José Giménez has undergone arthroscopic knee surgery but expects to be ready for preseason, while Carrasco had a nasal operation performed this week.
Memphis and Jan Oblak will not be part of the season’s final squad, while Rodrigo de Paul is serving a suspension for yellow card accumulation. Stefan Savić has been a full participant again, and he could be in line to start in central defense following his recovery from a broken toe.
Date June 4, 2023
Location Estadio de la Cerámica, Villarreal, València
Kickoff time 6:30 p.m. CEST, 5:30 p.m. BST, 12:30 p.m. EST, 9:30 a.m. PST
SB Nation opposition blog Villarreal USA