Spanish football expert Guillem Balague has pinpointed Atletico Madrid’s key attacking threat, ahead of Wednesday’s Champions League round-of-16 first leg with Manchester United.
Balague, who regularly appears on BBC Radio 5 Live and La Liga TV, in addition to writing for Spain’s Sport newspaper, has observed Atletico throughout this season.
Los Colchoneros’ La Liga title defence hasn’t gone to plan, as they sit four places and 15 points adrift of league leaders and City rivals Real, with qualification for next season’s Champions League up in the air.
However, forwards Yannick Carrasco and Angel Correa have stood out for Balague, although fortunately the former is suspended for both games with United after being sent off in their final Group B encounter, with Porto.
The tricky Correa, though, is identified as someone who could cause problems for the Reds.
I think Carrasco and Correa are the two players that when they’ve played they’ve been consistent and they have had a huge impact,” Guillem told us.
“Correa has been the best goalscorer, I think he’s scored 11 [league] goals this season, and whenever he plays, whether from the bench or starting, he creates a lot of havoc.
“He’s a little bit of an invisible striker. He appears when he’s not expected, at the second post, always running from behind to surprise the defences. If you had to pick one, it would have to be Correa.”
Matheus Cunha, signed from Hertha Berlin in the summer, has also impressed, although Balague points out that the Brazilian has been sidelined recently, meaning there is a vacancy in attack.
Antoine Griezmann is returning from a two-month lay-off, while Joao Felix is out of form, meaning it could be Luis Suarez – familiar to United fans from his spell at Liverpool – who gets the nod from manager Diego Simeone.
“Griezmann has just come back from injury and didn’t play a single minute against Osasuna [who Atletico beat 3-0 on Saturday], but Cunha is injured for two months now and he’s looked really sharp, so without him it could be a question of who leads the attack: Griezmann who’s just coming back from injury or Joao Felix, who seems a little bit fed up at the moment?