There’s no question that Atletico Madrid have emerged as Barcelona’s biggest title rivals this season, and the two clubs will meet at Camp Nou on Sunday in La Liga.
Ahead of the game Diego Simeone’s side have had a pretty interesting few days. On Monday the club announced that Yannick Carrasco and Nico Gaitan had moved to Chinese Super League side Dalian Yifang.
.@CarrascoY21 and @nicogaitan will join Dalian Yifang on a permanent deal.— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) February 26, 2018
Best of luck in China!
➡ https://t.co/PVytuVRpcp pic.twitter.com/cWOCoGzY8s
And today has seen another departure as goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya has secured a move to Real Sociedad.
.@M_A_Moya will join @RealSociedadEN on a permanent deal.— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) February 28, 2018
Best of luck!
Thanks for everything, Miguel Ángel; this will always be your home!
➡ https://t.co/D8KJCBB5aL pic.twitter.com/XEWQ5WAnu3
Now while Gaitain and Moya have barely featured in this campaign, Carrasco’s departure is an odd one. He may not have been at his best this season, but 24 seems a remarkably young age to be making the move to the Far East.
Anyway, Atletico have clearly deemed all three surplus to requirements and presumably have also been in real need of the money raised from their sales.
Interestingly, and particularly from Barcelona’s point of view, Diego Simeone is now left with a squad of just 19 players (17 outfield players and two goalkeepers) with which to complete the season.
Atletico have another 13 La Liga fixtures to complete, starting with tonight’s visit from Leganes, and they are also still in the Europa League where they have been drawn against Lokomotiv Moscow in the last 16.
Although Barcelona have a seven-point lead and are big favourites to clinch the title, there’s still some way to go and victory for Atletico on Sunday would cut the gap and give them real belief.
However, any injuries between now and the end of the season will hit Atletico hard and the small squad means that Simeone has fewer opportunities to rotate as we head into the business end of the season.