Sports

LaLiga 2021-22 preview: Atletico aims to capitalise on Real, Barca early season woes


Spanish champion Atletico Madrid will look to capitalise on its LaLiga title rivals early season woes as it seeks to maintain its 100% start to the season.

Real and Barca, missing many first-team regulars through injury, have looked vulnerable in draws with lowly opposition and are recovering from tumultuous off-seasons.

Pundits have criticised the opening weeks of the season for the amount of low-scoring games, with Real Betis coach Manuel Pellegrini suggesting players and referees need to do more to increase the entertainment value.

However, Atletico coach Diego Simeone has insisted his focus is on ensuring his players get through the games after a tough pre-season, rather than playing swashbuckling stuff.

READ: Sevilla signs Denmark midfielder Delaney from Dortmund

“Preparing for this campaign wasn’t easy, and less so for us given how many international players we have, especially the South Americans,” he said. “People might not care, but we have to keep tabs on these things.

“We’re also without Joao Felix and Hector Herrera, so there are players arriving back late and we need to adapt to that.”

Atleti and Sevilla are the only sides to win their first two games of the league campaign and Simeone will be helped by the return to full training of striker Luis Suarez, who hit 21 goals last season but has only been fit enough for the bench thus far.

READ: Real Madrid players miss out again as Spain announces squad for WC Qualifiers

Real Madrid, which could only draw against Levante last time out, visits Betis on Saturday with first-teamers Dani Ceballos, Luka Modric, Toni Kroos and Ferland Mendy all absent, while centre back Nacho will undergo a late fitness test.

Barcelona, which was held by Athletic Bilbao last week, hosts Getafe on Sunday without Sergio Aguero, Ousmane Dembele, Ansu Fati and Marc-Andre te Stegen.



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