After the Copa del Rey aperitif, Elche returns to La Liga this noon (2:00 p.m., Movistar) with a challenge of height: trying to get something positive out of his visit to the leader Atlético de Madrid, who needs to redeem himself from his defeat on the day earlier in the derby in the capital against Real (2-0) and that yesterday received the shock of positive for covid-19 from his substitute goalkeeper, the Croatian Grbic. Although they have much more to gain than lose, the franjiverde team also comes in need to this theoretically unequal duel after six consecutive days without winning in LaLiga Santander, which have compromised their classification and the distance with the relegation places has been reduced to one match. In addition, the team from Elche visits the rojiblancos – whom they have never won at home in their 21 matches – with their sights also set on the decisive duel for salvation next Tuesday at home against Osasuna.
Elche’s league premiere in the glittering Wanda Metropolitano -he already played there in the Copa del Rey- presents an interesting bench duel between two Argentine coaches, the rojiblanco Diego Cholo Simeone and the franjiverde Jorge Almirón, who do not know each other personally, but admire each other and compliments were exchanged yesterday. Elche travels to Madrid with the only absence of forward Guido Carrillo, who is still convalescing from his knee, and the mattress team has the casualties of midfielder Herrera and central José María Giménez.
Almirón recovers his “first unit” after the Cup and Simeone his key men: Koke, Carrasco, Llorente, Joao Félix and Luis Suárez
The two coaches reserved their best men in their respective Copa del Rey clashes during the week – with victories against the modest Cardassar (0-3 Atlético) and Buñol (1-2 Elche) -, so it is very possible that this noon they bet again on their gala “onces”. Atlético recovers key players such as Joao Félix, Luis Suárez, Koke, Carrasco and Marcos Llorente, while Almirón recovers his “first unit”, from which on Wednesday he only used Lucas Boyé, Josan and Tete Morente in the second part. It will be a special duel for the Elche midfielder Saúl Ñíguez, who faces his home team at a delicate moment for the international midfielder, who has lost prominence and specific weight in recent months in Simeone’s team.
The company is capital for the franjiverdes in a scenario in which Atlético has not lost in LaLiga for more than a year. His last defeat at home dates back to December 1 of last year against Barcelona (0-1) and he needs to beat the Elche team this afternoon to stay as leader, given that he is even on points with his two pursuers, Real Sociedad and Real Madrid, although with several games except the rojiblancos.
Inspired by his good result in his previous start (0-0 at Villarreal), Elche will try to close the spaces to the leader and prevent him from playing in the open field, which is how the rojiblancos feel more comfortable, under the baton of Koke, the strength by Marcos Llorente and the genius of Joao Félix. “Villarreal and Atlético have similarity in their desire to be protagonists with the ball, although with different nuances,” said Almirón, who also highlighted Simeone’s ability to “take advantage with different schemes of four defenders or three central defenders and two lanes , after many years in which he has rearmed and positioned his team as one of the best in LaLiga and in the world.
For his part, Simeone, said yesterday that he has seen “quite well” forward Diego Costa, who has missed six official games due to a venous thrombosis in his right leg, and this afternoon he will be available to play a few minutes against Elche. “We have a rival who is doing well, perhaps the results have not been fair with the game he proposes, with a lot of possession, a lot of distribution of people on the field to hurt the rival,” the Atlético coach analyzed about the Franco-green team.
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