Atlético Madrid go into Saturday’s game at the Vicente Calderón without a win since January 17th, and the schedule does not get any easier as league upstarts Eibar visit the Calderón.
Kick-off is set for 16:00 CET.
Atlético may have fought a little too hard last time out at Barcelona and will suffer with Filipe Luis, Juanfran, and Diego Godin all missing the game through suspension. Tiago, Augusto and Stefan Savic will also miss the game due to injury.
All these problems mean a thin squad for Atlético including an inexperienced back four of Jesus Gámez, José Giménez, Saúl, and Lucas.
Still, all four players have showed a lot of promise for Atlético this season and they are more than capable of a clean sheet. Thomas Partey could also get a rare start to provide more coverage at the back.
Up top, rumour has it that Ángel Correa will line-up in place of Luciano Vietto alongside Antoine Griezmann. With only one goal in their last two league games, Atlético fans will welcome the added creativity.
Eighth in the league, Eibar’s form has been back and forth lately, with two straight losses at Basque rivals Athletic Bilbao and home against Málaga coming after a 5-1 thrashing of Granada. Jaime, Ivan Ramis, Aleksandar Patic, and Antonio Luna will miss the game due to injury.
Eibar has decided not to pay the 150,000 euro fee required to play Atlético loanee Borja Bastón, who has scored 15 goals in all competitions this season. Bastón has played high class football both for Eibar and for Zaragoza (23 goals in just 39 games) last year and is expected to challenge Correa and Vietto for the second striker spot next season.
Former Atlético academy player Keko will probably assume his normal position on the wing. After loans and full contracts with six different teams in the Segunda División and Italy, Keko returned to La Liga with Eibar this year and has been a key part of their squad, racking up two goals and four assists so far.
Diego Simeone respected Eibar, saying, “We’re playing against a rival that’s playing well.” He called on the fans for support, “The only thing that moves us is seeing a packed stadium and feeling the people with us.”
Eibar manager Jose Luis Mendilibar characterised the match as “difficult, but we can get something out of it.” He praised Atlético as “a serious candidate to win the league along with Barcelona and Real Madrid.”
Mendilibar also hinted at a lineup change, “We have to change something because we’ve played with one striker in other games. We have different options. Atlético has only allowed ten goals and we know it’s complicated to create chances against them.”
Despite all the missing players, Atlético has a prime opportunity to defeat a key rival at the Calderón and remain in striking distance of Barcelona for the top of the table. The players never know when Barcelona might falter and therefore cannot afford to slip up as the season enters its critical stage.