Atlético Madrid manager Diego Simeone has been tinkering of late. In midfield, there have been some changes made, but El Cholo has found a reliable trio, who he will likely play against Manchester City in the Champions League next week.
This midfield three played in the 1-0 victory over City’s rivals Manchester United earlier this month. Héctor Herrera, Koke and Rodrigo de Paul have all found form of late and Simeone has found confidence in them after a tough spell. They have all played in the recent league victories over Cádiz and Rayo Vallecano.
Herrera plays as the central midfielder in the three, starting the moves and offering support. Koke is positioned to his left and De Paul, to his right. Both work in the press and look to attack, as Herrera sits deeper. Koke scored in the side’s recent 1-0 win over Rayo Vallecano, with a lovely curling effort from the left channel.
Captain Koke has gone through a difficult period this season though and he himself acknowledged that he was not at his best, but since his return from a thigh injury, he has looked much better. Herrera, who played very little in the first half of the season, took his chance against Osasuna and has been a key part of the side over the last seven games, playing 603 minutes out of a possible 630.
Rodrigo de Paul has been a permanent fixture under Simeone, but his level dropped and he was left out of the starting eleven for the home leg against Manchester United. Injuries to Kondogbia and Koke gave him another chance and the Argentine has taken it with both hands. After a poor first half in the win away to Real Betis, he made up for it after the break, with a fine display in the engine room. The former Udinese man then scored the winning goal against Cádiz at the Wanda Metropolitano, before putting in an impressive shift at Old Trafford in the second leg.
This means that Geoffrey Kondogbia and Thomas Lemar have spent time watching on. The former Valencia player was performing well until he got injured against Celta Vigo. Lemar has been out of the last few games due to a muscular problem, but he had lost his place in the side before that. One of them should their chance this weekend as Koke will be suspended (five yellow cards) against Alavés on Saturday. Simeone will start one of them, or maybe both. It depends on how De Paul returns from international duty with Argentina.