MADRID, Jan. 17 (.) –
Atlético de Madrid visits Levante this Wednesday (9:00 p.m./La 1) in the round of 16 of the Copa del Rey, with the aim of laying the foundations for the umpteenth recovery in the midst of their irregularity, taking refuge in their cupbearer oasis this season, against a granota team on a roll that dreams of ‘killing’ another ‘First’.
‘Cholo’ Simeone’s team does not raise its head and does not finish starting this course. When it seemed that his reconstruction was underway and regularity returned to the rojiblanca routine, doubts appeared again to water the aspirations of the colchoneros with uncertainty. The Madrid team drew (1-1) last Sunday against Almería, in a duel in which they stumbled and showed the team’s lack of ‘punch’.
Thus, he needs the most voracious version of Álvaro Morata and Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman seems to be now, after the departures of Joao Félix and Matheus Cunha, that ace up his sleeve for Simeone, the key piece for him to get the gear, now somewhat stuck, to work again. And he must do it in a fief in which he has not won since June 2020.
Before the World Cup, Atleti arrived injured at their last stage, in the Cup against Almazán, with five consecutive games without winning between the League and the Champions League (3 losses and 2 draws). For this reason, the victory (0-2) against the Sorianos was balsamic, and continued after the break with three victories in a row, two of them in the KO tournament -Arenteiro (1-3) and Oviedo (0-2)- . But, against Barça, two days ago, the ghosts reappeared with another defeat (0-1) -the eighth of the course-, which hurts the mattress regularity.
In front will be a Levante with morale through the roof. The Granotas are third, in play-off positions, only three points behind the leader, with only three defeats this season. All of them occurred in their big slump at the beginning of October, from which they recovered, chaining 17 unbeaten games to date.
In the previous rounds of the Copa del Rey, Levante eliminated Olot (0-4) in the first tie, Andorra (2-1) in the second tie and Getafe from LaLiga Santander (3-2) in the round of 32 . The rojiblancos and the Valencians already met in the Cup more than 16 years ago, in a tie that Atlético beat, winning 0-1 at the Ciutat. However, the close balance is favorable to the granotas, who have won on their last two visits to the Metropolitan, with two draws at home.
THE CHAMPION BETIS RECEIVES OSASUNA AND ATHLETIC, ESPANYOL
At the same time, Betis, who defends the cupbearer throne, will try to lick the wounds of the Spanish Super Cup – they lost in the semi-finals on penalties against FC Barcelona – in the round of 16 duel against Osasuna. The Verdiblancos are having an outstanding campaign, with only one defeat in the eight games prior to Arabia’s painful goodbye. Now he is sixth in the League, with the same points as the fourth but one game less.
Manuel Pellegrini’s Betis, who have already eliminated Ibiza Islas Pitiusas, have never lost a tie in 90 minutes. Of the 16 disputed with the Chilean, he has overcome 13, while the remaining three were lost in extra time or from eleven meters. For the next challenge against Osasuna, the coach presents the casualties of Rui Silva, Juanmi, Nabil Fekir and Joaquín, due to injury, and Andrés Guardado, due to suspension.
The rojillo team has enjoyed a calm and uneventful first part of the season, seventh, just one point behind the Champions League. Betis will have to neutralize the effective and wasteful version in terms of effort of Jagoba Arrasate’s men, who beat Mallorca (1-0) this weekend. Fuentes, Arnedo and Nàstic have already suffered it in the Cup, in lower level exams to now face a feat at Villamarín. The coach advanced “five or six changes” in the eleven against the Sevillian team.
Also this Wednesday, at 8:00 p.m., Athletic will try to put aside the sadness of the Basque derby last Saturday, which stayed in San Sebastián (3-1). The rojiblancos found themselves greatly outmatched and cut their dynamic of six games without losing, although they are eighth, two points behind the Champions League, positions they occupied before the World Cup. The only confirmed casualty for Ernesto Valverde is that of Iñigo Martínez.
After leaving Alzira, Sestao River and Eldense on the road, the ‘lions’ will face their disappointment with the enthusiasm of a Espanyol team that came out of relegation after beating Getafe (1-2) this weekend. There are already six duels without defeat, with a Joselu in an extraordinary state (3 goals and 2 assists in the last five games). In the Cup, a tournament that he has won four times (1929, 1940, 2000 and 2006), he has gotten rid of Rincón, Atlético Paso and Celta.
Keidi Bare and Adrià Pedrosa will be low in the ‘perico’ team, which could undergo changes in order to manage the minutes. Athletic has emerged victorious from the last two Cup precedents between the two, advancing in the qualifiers for the 2007-2008 and 2014-2015 seasons. Although the last confrontation, also in San Mamés, fell on the side of the Catalans (0-1).
Finally, Sporting de Gijón-Valencia will open the list of games this Wednesday (7:00 p.m.). The duel will serve as the premiere for Miguel Ángel Ramírez from the Canary Islands on the Asturian bench, as a substitute for Abelardo. They are fifteenth in LaLiga Smartbank, only three points above relegation, although in the Cup they have raised the level by ‘killing’ Beasain, Numancia and Rayo.
Facing a favorite Valencia that could not, despite completing a great match, beat Real Madrid in the semifinal of the Spanish Super Cup. Before, in the League, they already lost to Cádiz (0-1) and Villarreal (2-1) to place twelfth, but only three units from the red zone. To visit El Molinón, after being the executioner of La Nucía, Gennaro Gattuso will not be able to count on the recently renewed Mouctar Diakhaby, Thierry Correia and Samu Castillejo.
–MATCHES ON WEDNESDAY OF THE EIGHTH FINAL OF THE COPA DEL REY.
Sporting de Gijón – Valencia CF 19.00.
Athletic Club – RCD Espanyol 20.00.
Levante UD – Atlético de Madrid 21.00.
Real Betis – Osasuna21.00.