Diego Simeone is not prepared to risk the fitness of Atletico Madrid attacking trident Luis Suarez, Diego Costa and Joao Felix by starting all three players against Real Sociedad on Tuesday.
Costa marked his return from his latest injury lay-off with a penalty in Atletico’s 3-1 win over Elche on Saturday, a game in which Luis Suarez scored his first two goals since recovering from coronavirus.
Joao Felix has carried much of the burden in his team-mates’ absence but left the pitch with a knock in the final quarter of the contest, though he is back in training and in contention to face Sociedad.
Simeone has yet to start a game with all three players and does not intend to alter his formation on Tuesday, although he is not against using all three if Atleti are chasing a goal at Estadio de Anoeta.
“I don’t think they’re all ready to start, but we can finish with them,” Simeone said at a pre-match news conference on Monday. “They are dangerous forwards and can play together.
“We have to be patient and get the most out of each player that we have. The most important thing is to ensure they are all well enough to play together.”
The boss: @RealSociedadEN have competed at a high level for several years.
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) December 21, 2020
Atletico have scored 24 goals in 12 LaLiga games this term at a rate of one goal every 45 minutes, compared to 51 goals in 38 outings in 2019-20 – one every 67 minutes.
They have also conceded just five goals all season – the fewest of any team in Europe’s top five leagues – an improvement Simeone believes stretches beyond the start of this season.
“Everything is the consequence of something else,” he said. “I have been repeating for a long time that the growth appeared when returning after the quarantine period.
“The team attacked very well at the end of last season and we have continued in the same direction this time around. We have improved as a whole and the players have perfectly interpreted what we have asked of them.”
Atleti lead the way at the top of LaLiga ahead of their trip to Sociedad, who are three points worse off in third having played three games more.
Sociedad have won four of their last six home LaLiga games against Atletico and Simeone is anticipating a difficult encounter against the division’s joint-top scorers.
“They are working well under a coach who is expressing it on the field,” he said. “They have a stronger squad than last season, with the arrival of David Silva giving them something extra.
“They have very good midfield and forward players and are a team that competes at a high level.”