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Madrid, May 23 . .- Depleted throughout the first half of the season by an unexpected number of injuries, Atlético de Madrid sees the resumption of the League full of troops, only pending for the start of the Sime Vrsaljko championship, and with the rearmament that such a situation supposes for the competition in the team, a key question always for the Diego Simeone block.

Until the return leg of the Champions League round of 16 against Liverpool at Anfield on March 11, just the last of the rojiblanco team before the competitive break due to the covid-19 pandemic, the coach had not ordered his entire squad to configure eleven and call, although not in that case was it entirely real, since, for example, Álvaro Morata suffered muscle discomfort. He could only play the final stretch.

Without that clash, when Atlético conquered the legendary ‘red’ stadium, seized by Jan Oblak’s stops, relaunched in overtime by two incontestable blows by Marcos Llorente and winner with the 2-3 of Morata, Simeone has not had the opportunity to Choose from all of their footballers, now 23, to create a starting lineup.

And his team has played 38 official matches this season, with 17 wins, 14 draws and seven defeats. He scored 47 goals – nine of them in the last four games – and received 32 – five in the three most recent duels. The average of casualties per game, between injuries and penalties, has been three absences per shock, with the maximum of the eight players who were not available in the 1-0 victory against Granada.

Apart from the aforementioned commitment in Liverpool and this last example, Atlético had a loss in seven games, two in five games, three in 16 duels, four in as many clashes, three in five and six and seven on one occasion. Only six of the 23 players have been available every game: goalkeepers Jan Oblak and Antonio Adán, defender Mario Hermoso, midfielder Marcos Llorente and forward Ivan Saponjic, apart from Yannick Carrasco, although in his case he was loaned on the edge of the last February.

JOAO FÉLIX, LOW FOR SAN MAMÉS

Now, with the expectation that Vrsaljko – the only one who is not currently training when he underwent surgery on Thursday for a knee in a scheduled arthroscopy – will be ready for the resumption of the tournament, he already has all for the final stretch of the bell.

Not even just in the game he faces after the break, against Athletic Club in San Mamés, because Joao Félix must complete a cycle of five yellow cards for being cautioned against Sevilla, but for the rest of the final part of the season; to tackle the classification among the top four in the table, once the title is already impossible, and to aspire to the maximum in the Champions League, in which he awaits a rival in the quarterfinals, after his feat of eliminating Liverpool , the current champion, at Anfield.

By positions, the goal is Jan Oblak, with Antonio Adán as his replacement. The right side is completely covered with up to three options: Kieran Trippier, the incumbent; Sime Vrsaljko, the alternative; and Santiago Arias, who has gone from his good time back in October and November, almost at the height of the English international, to be discarded in each of the last five calls, since his ownership in 2-2 against Valencia at Mestalla .

In the center of the rear, before the break, Stefan Savic and Felipe Monteiro were clearly entrenched in that demarcation. José María Giménez has returned from an injury to fuel a competition that injuries had reduced quantitatively and qualitatively. There is also the option of Mario Hermoso, although he is the one who starts with the least possibilities, given the development of the season.

The Madrilenian, signed last summer from Espanyol for 25 million fixed plus four in variables and who has played this year 20 of the 38 official matches, although only three of the fifteen most recent, can also play as a left back. That place is generally from Renan Lodi. Beautiful is an alternative, just as Saúl Ñíguez is. Manu Sánchez is the option of the subsidiary in that square.

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In the middle, there are three fixed positions in the eleven: Koke Resurrección, Saúl Ñíguez and Thomas Partey, except for rotation, injury or sanction.

It does not seem that this situation will change anything in the return to the competition, with which only one position remains for a group of profiles and varied characteristics: wingers such as Víctor Machín, ‘Vitolo’; Yannick Carrasco -both can also play up front- or Thomas Lemar; a versatile player like Marcos Llorente, recently revalued with outstanding performance and three goals, two of them at Anfield, after a first leg with hardly any opportunities, and now transformed into a side player; or a middle center like Héctor Herrera.

JOAO FÉLIX-MORATA-DIEGO COSTA?

But Ángel Correa is also there, more forward than extreme, but again more employed in recent times on the right wing than at the tip and the most common chosen to complete midfield recently, and even Joao Félix, who can play in the right if the coach chooses to line up Diego Costa and Álvaro Morata together in attack.

With that ‘trident’ he insisted on the preseason, but, until now, between injuries and penalties, he has only been able to use it three times in the beginning, in three games in a row: from October 1 to 19 with a victory (0-2 at Lokomotiv ) and two draws (0-0 in Valladolid and 1-1 with Valencia). Then Joao Félix was injured, then Diego Costa … Now he has everyone back.

And it already prepares by groups the return to the competition, which already has a free way for the Government to resume from June 8. This Saturday, the team completed its second week of work with a session again in three groups at the Ciudad Deportiva in the Madrid town of Majadahonda. Only Sime Vrsaljko was missing due to the arthroscopy in the left knee that he underwent last Thursday. This Sunday, the squad has a rest day. In two and a half weeks the League awaits.

Iñaki Dufour

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