With the Champions League last-16 clash on the horizon, the return of the Spanish striker comes at a crucial time for Diego Simeone’s side.
Alvaro Morata is fit to feature in Atletico Madrid’s La Liga meeting Valencia on Friday, Diego Simeone has verified.
An unspecified muscle injury in Morata’s right leg forced him off early in the second half of the 1-0 defeat to his former team Real Madrid on February 1.
With Diego Costa and Joao Felix out, Simeone had to start Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Granada with Angel Correa and Vitolo in attack.
Despite confirming Morata will form a part of his team for Atletico’s trip to confront Valencia in Mestalla on Friday -“Yes, he will be in the game tomorrow” – Simeone was reluctant to respond substantially to a follow-up query.
That concerned whether the 27-year-old Morata and fellow former Chelsea striker Diego Costa will be available for the first leg of Atletico’s Champions League last-16 tie with Liverpool next Tuesday.
“I’m not looking at Tuesday’s match [against Liverpool], our energy and thoughts are focused on Valencia. After that, we’ll look to our next game,” said Simeone.
Atletico sit fourth in La Liga, two points ahead of Valencia, and Simeone is wary of the threat posed by Albert Celades’ team.
“It’s a critical match because it’s the one coming,” said Simeone. “Valencia at home are very powerful with their fans behind them.
“They have important players and we must consider how we can hurt them in such a challenging fixture. We need to win because this generates momentum and gives a positive feeling.
“Furthermore, it makes it possible to keep improving.”
Simeone also discussed the 1-0 win over Granada that moved Atleti into fourth place in the table, insisting that such slender scorelines always lead to anxiety.
“Looking back at last weekend’s game, our first half display was close to what we have been on the lookout for and what sort of team we’re – that is something for us to build on.
“We have been talking about the need to win, to have more vim and vigour, to have that anxious feeling which you can resolve the game with a counter-attack after going 1-0 up.
“That didn’t happen, and as in all games whenever you’ve got a slim scoreline, there is always that anxiety.”