Atlético de Madrid: Oblak; Trippier, Giménez, Hermoso, Lodi; Carrasco, De Paul, Kondogbia, Lemar; Correa, Luis Suárez.
Rayo Vallecano: Luca Zidane; Balliú, Maras, Saveljich, Kevin Rodrigues; Isi Palazón, Comesaña, Valentín, Fran García; Unai López; Sergi Guardiola.
Where to see
Follow the game live on ‘Carrusel Deportivo’ from 16:30 with the direction of Dani Garrido and the narration of Miguel Martín Talavera. You can watch the game on the La Liga channel of ‘Movistar +’ where you can select the audio from Cadena SER.
At this point in the season, no one sensed, already on the verge of the end of the first round, that Atlético de Madrid was going to be as it is, in fifth position, with the League impossible and depressed by four defeats in a row, nor that Rayo Vallecano It was going to be the team that sets the standard in the Champions League, fourth in the table, invincible at home, less decisive away, but one point ahead of Diego Simeone’s team when both meet this Sunday at the Wanda Metropolitano.
It is a reverse derby, marked by the high incidence in the country of Covid-19, which has also affected both teams: Atlético, with four casualties at this time on the ground (Joao Félix, Antoine Griezmann, Koke Resurrección and Héctor Herrera) and pending a second negative so that Simeone can direct him this Sunday from the bench; Rayo, with eight to date, although he has recovered another nine to add them to the eight troops who started the week’s training sessions, in addition to Andoni Iraola. The last to join the group, ready for the duel this Sunday, were Stole Dimitrievski and Óscar Trejo.
It is not an excuse for Atlético, which is in depression. His four consecutive losses in the League, his 22 goals against at this point in the season, heading for the worst first round of the Simeone era, have already knocked him out in the title fight when he was the current champion, derived to the goal Essential for each course: qualifying for the Champions League, in which he has not failed in any of the last nine campaigns.
And for that it must be at least fourth at the end of the tournament. Today is fifth, because the fourth place is precisely Rayo Vallecano, the Sunday rival of a group that aspired to much more than it has shown for now in this exercise, because it is bleeding behind, when its defense not long ago was an example , and because it is not forceful above, when last year it had a tremendous effectiveness, personified in Luis Suárez.
The Uruguayan attacker has not scored in any of the last six games. And he has only scored one goal in his twelve most recent games. Atlético is sorry because, even so, the Uruguayan ‘9’ continues to be their top scorer of the campaign. He’s stuck at eight goals, but he’s unmatched for the rest. Only Antoine Griezmann approached him, out due to a muscle injury since the derby with Real Madrid and now affected by Covid-19.
It is another problem for Atlético, as it is for Rayo and for many other teams, at this time of year, when the incidence has grown rapidly throughout society. Apart from Griezmann, Koke Resurrección and Joao Félix have also been infected, who were going to be headlines yes or yes in the duel this Sunday and now they will not be, and Héctor Herrera, in addition to coach Simeone, who has followed everything telematically the work of his team since last Thursday, when he tested positive. On Friday afternoon, the technician, still isolated at home and asymptomatic, obtained a first negative. Now he is waiting for a second that would allow him to be with the team this Sunday.
Apart from the four players affected by Covid-19, neither Marcos Llorente nor Stefan Savic are available, due to muscular injuries.
But Atlético has a squad to compete against any circumstance (more in quality than in quantity, perhaps) and to put together an eleven that many teams would like for him even with so many casualties: Jan Oblak, in goal; Kieran Trippier, José María Giménez -returned to the starting team after five games out due to injury-, Mario Hermoso and Renan Lodi, on defense; Yannick Carrasco, Rodrigo de Paul, Geoffrey Kondogbia (back to his natural position after serving as center-back in the last four games of his team) and Thomas Lemar, in midfield; and Ángel Correa and Luis Suárez, up front.
On his return home after the free fall that began with the 1-2 with Mallorca, that is the probable eleven of Atlético, who has received a goal almost in every shot he has received in the last four days (eight of eleven ) and suffers a general failure. He is betrayed by the 17 points that he looks at from far away to the leadership of Real Madrid or his latest results: he has won only three of his last ten league games since he beat Barcelona 2-0 at the Wanda Metropolitano, when he felt at a level close to optimal. It was not reality.
In front, Rayo faces the duel affected by the covid outbreak that started the week with only eight players from the first team, a number that grew over the days until 17 were ready for the match: goalkeepers Luca Zidane , Stole Dimitrievski and Iván Arboleda; defenders Mario Hernández, Kevin Rodrigues, Iván Balliú, Nikola Maras, Esteban Saveljich and Fran García; midfielders Santi Comesaña, Oscar Valentín, Óscar Trejo, Isi Palazón, Pathé Ciss and Unai López; and forwards Andrés Martín and Sergi Guardiola.
On the other hand, eight players are not yet available due to Covid-19: Alejandro Catena, Baby, Álvaro García, Mario Suárez, José Ángel Pozo, Randy Nteka, Radamel Falcao (a scorer in the history of Atlético de Madrid, champion of three titles with him and with a decisive role) and Yacine Qasmi.
Óscar Trejo and Stole Dimitrievski will finally be ready for the match, after Covid-19 has already been overcome, although only with a training session, this Saturday, to prepare for the match.
With this panorama, Andoni Iraola will not be able to line up the eleven that usually came playing as a starter and that was very defined day by day. In this way, against Atlético, Luca Zidane will act under sticks, Sergi Guardiola as an attacking reference and one of the variants that could occur in the coach’s eleven is to overtake winger Fran García to the far left so that Kevin Rodrigues will play behind. .
Rayo comes to this game at a good time due to the 30 points that he adds in the classification and that places him only one of the 31 that the team achieved in the 2012-13 season, when he starred in the best first round in his history directed by Paco Jémez.
His good performance has been based, above all, on his strength as a local, since in the Vallecas stadium he is undefeated and has 25 points out of 27 possible. On the other hand, as a visitor they have only added 5 of 27 and are the third worst team in the home category.
George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.