Atletico Madrid have been lifted ahead of Saturday’s La Liga derby at home to Real Madrid by the return of inspirational captain Diego Godin from injury, although Spain internationals Koke and Diego Costa look set to miss out. The Uruguayan defender, 32, was given the all clear by doctors to return to action on Friday after sustaining a hamstring injury on Jan. 26. Midfielder Koke and forward Costa did not take part in Friday’s training session.
Atletico midfielder Saul Niguez is also expected to make his return from injury against Real, having missed last week’s 1-0 defeat at Real Betis which saw them fall six points behind league leaders Barcelona. Striker Alvaro Morata, who had a disappointing debut against Betis, is set for his home bow, facing the club where he began his career.
Real lost Spanish midfielder Marcos Llorente to injury in Wednesday’s 1-1 draw at Barcelona in their Copa del Rey semi-final first leg, while out-of-favour playmaker Isco is expected to be unavailable after withdrawing from Friday’s training session with a back problem.
Real are resurgent after an inconsistent campaign, winning their last four league outings to move within two points of their neighbours, and will climb above them into second in the standings with victory on Saturday.
It will be the first meeting between Atletico coach Diego Simeone and Argentine compatriot Santiago Solari, who played under Simeone at Buenos Aires club San Lorenzo.
Solari has helped revive Madrid’s fortunes since succeeding Julen Lopetegui as coach in October.
“We are meeting an opponent who has really grown since Solari arrived, they are dangerous down the flanks, and they have Karim Benzema in a fantastic spell of form,” Simeone told a news conference on Friday.
“I have known Solari for a very long time, I coached him at San Lorenzo and he gave us authority and leadership. He’s a capable coach and he’s shown that he has real character.”