Atletico Madrid v Eibar: Gimenez confident of overcoming defensive headache


Centre-back Jose Gimenez believes Atletico Madrid have the strength in depth to cope with their defensive headache ahead of Saturday's La Liga clash with Eibar.

Diego Simeone's men go into the game with a number of absentees in defence due to suspensions and injuries.

Filipe Luis was hit with a three-match ban following his red card for a foul on Barcelona's Lionel Messi in last weekend's 2-1 defeat to their title rivals at Camp Nou, although his sanction was reduced to one game on appeal on Thursday.

Juanfran is also banned, while Diego Godin - also sent off in the loss in Catalonia - suffered knee ligament damage against Barca, as did midfielder Augusto Fernandez.

Centre-back Stefan Savic sustained a thigh strain in training, leaving the Atletico rearguard with limited options as they bid to bounce back from the reverse to Barca that left the capital club three points adrift of the defending champions at the top.

But Gimenez said: "Every player in the squad is ready to play any match. Without a doubt, the absence of Diego, Filipe and Juanfran will be very important for the coming match.

"But whichever player comes out will try to do his best and any player in the squad is ready for it."

Atletico are without a win in four games having been knocked out of the Copa del Rey by Celta Vigo and held by Sevilla prior to losing to Barca.

"It's true that something unusual happened in these four games," Gimenez added. "But it's also true that we remain as calm as we have been since the beginning of the season. Playing match-by-match, as the coach says and we say it too."

Atletico sold forward Jackson Martinez to Guangzhou Evergrande for a reported EUR42million fee this week, the Colombia international departing having only moved to the Vicente Calderon from Porto in July last year.

His exit will put more onus on Antoine Griezmann, who has 19 goals in all competitions this season, to continue his excellent scoring form against an Eibar side in contention for European football.

Eibar are eighth in La Liga but are just three points behind Sevilla in fifth. 

The Basque club completed the signing of striker Kike from Middlesbrough on transfer deadline day but he cannot play for Eibar until next season after they failed to file his registration papers in time.

Atletico loanee Borja Baston - who has 15 goals in 21 La Liga appearances this term - is unable to play against his parent club after Eibar decided not to pay EUR150,000 to make him eligible.

Sergi Enrich is likely to lead the line in his absence as Eibar aim to avoid a third-straight Liga defeat.


Key Opta stats:
- Atletico have gone eight league games at home without losing (W6 D2) and have only conceded in three of them (one goal in each game).
- Eibar have won only one of their last six away La Liga games (D1 L4), 0-4 at Real Betis.
- Borja Baston has been involved in 17 of the 35 goals scored by Eibar in La Liga this season, with 15 goals and two assists.
- Five of Atletico's seven goals against Eibar in La Liga have come in the first 25 minutes of matches.