Atlético de Madrid enter the Copa del Rey at the round of 32 on Saturday afternoon with a visit to third-tier side Club Deportivo Lugo.
Atlético Madrid narrowly missed out on being a cup semifinalist last season, bowing out to eventual champions Real Madrid in extra time at the quarterfinal stage. It has been more than a decade since Atlético won the domestic cup, a trophy that has suddenly become very important to Los Rojiblancos following Wednesday’s 4-3 loss at Girona — a result that saw Atleti fall 10 points off the pace in LaLiga and virtually exit the title race.
Diego Simeone on Friday told reporters that he plans to rotate his squad for the opening cup game against Lugo, which suffered relegation from Segúnda last year and now sits eighth in its Primera Federación group behind the B teams of Celta Vigo, Real Sociedad, and FC Barcelona.
“All of our players are working hard. Some like Javi Galán and Çaglar Söyüncü have had fewer minutes, but (on Saturday) I expect enthusiasm from them and a strong desire to play,” Simeone said on Friday. “It’s important that we keep playing how we played in the second half (on Wednesday), which was very good.”
Today’s XI in training:— Atletico Universe (@atletiuniverse) January 5, 2024
️ Molina - Azpilicueta - Giménez - Soyuncu - Galan
⚙️ Saúl - Witsel - Riquelme
Memphis - Correa
With the January transfer window now open, Simeone on Friday was also asked how he saw his Atlético squad and whether it needed reinforcements for the second half of the season. Atleti sit fifth in LaLiga, behind fourth-place Athletic Club via the head-to-head tiebreaker — and despite that good second half at Montilivi on Wednesday, Los Rojiblancos have lost four consecutive away games to domestic opposition for the first time under El Cholo.
“I think we are covered quite well,” Simeone said of his squad. “Any players who arrive are welcome, they’ll improve us. We’ve spoken with the club about what the coaching staff sees and what we may need to bolster the team.”
Nuestra convocatoria para el debut copero. pic.twitter.com/VEX1shvGNc— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) January 5, 2024
Date Jan. 6, 2024
Location Estadio Anxo Carro, Lugo, Galicia
Kickoff time 4:00 p.m. CET, 3:00 p.m. GMT, 10:00 a.m. ET, 7:00 a.m. PT