Atlético de Madrid have touched down in Saudi Arabia ahead of Wednesday night’s Supercopa de España semifinal against eternal rivals Real Madrid.
Atletico Madrid are playing in the Supercopa for the third time since 2020, and the winner of this semifinal will face the winner of Thursday’s Barcelona - Osasuna matchup in the final on Sunday. Atlético have won the competition twice (the last time in 2014, against Real Madrid) and were most recently runners-up four years ago (losing a penalty shootout to Madrid).
¡Ya estamos en el hotel de concentración! pic.twitter.com/3vzfwDz4kT— Atlético de Madrid (@Atleti) January 8, 2024
This is the second Madrid Derby of the season, and the first of three meetings between Atlético and Real Madrid over the next month — the two teams will meet again next Wednesday at the Cívitas Metropolitano in the Copa del Rey round of 16 before a league fixture at the Santiago Bernabéu on Feb. 4.
“Playing against Madrid excites us and motivates us, it creates expectations,” Diego Simeone told reporters on Tuesday.
Atlético emerged victorious the last time it met Real Madrid, back in September. It remains Madrid’s only loss this season, in all competitions. Head coach Carlo Ancelotti did not have a fit Vinícius Jr. for that 3-1 defeat — nor did he have an in-form Rodrygo Goes, or an in-form Brahim Díaz, all of whom will be available Wednesday night.
“I like playing Real Madrid,” said Rodrigo de Paul, who will be playing in his third Madrid Derby. “I always want to face the best teams, and Madrid are certainly one of them. It involves physical and mental exhaustion, but taking on the best is one of the good things about a matchup like this.”
Simeone on Monday trained with one of his strongest lineups (on paper). Samuel Lino is expected to step back in at left wing-back for Javi Galán (who impressed at Lugo last weekend), while the out-of-favor Stefan Savić could return to the 11 to give Axel Witsel a breather and cover for Marcos Llorente on the right. Koke and de Paul are expected to complete the midfield trio, and Madrid’s defense will have its hands full against the dangerous Antoine Griezmann-Álvaro Morata tandem.
Date Jan. 10, 2024
Location Al-Awwal Park, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia
Kickoff time 8:00 p.m. CET, 7:00 p.m. GMT, 2:00 p.m. ET, 11:00 a.m. PT
SB Nation opposition blog Managing Madrid