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Atletico Madrid boosted by Morata return ahead of Liverpool clash

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 with Valencia on Friday, Diego Simeone has confirmed.

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 club Real Madrid on February 1.

With Diego Costa and Joao Felix already out, Simeone had to start Saturday’s 1-0 victory over Granada with Angel Correa and Vitolo in attack.

Despite confirming Morata will form part of his team for Atletico’s trip to face Valencia at Mestalla on Friday – “Yes, he will be in the game tomorrow” – Simeone was unwilling to respond substantially to a follow-up question.

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 game [against Liverpool], all our energy and thoughts are focused on Valencia. After that, we’ll look to our next match,” 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 very important match because it’s the one coming next,” said Simeone. “Valencia at home are very strong with their fans behind them.

“They have important players and we must think about how we can hurt them in such a difficult fixture. We need to win, because this generates momentum and gives a positive feeling.

“Furthermore, it helps you 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 result in anxiety.

“Looking back at last weekend’s game, our first half display was close to what we’ve been looking for and what kind of team we are – that’s something for us to build on.

“We’ve been discussing the need to win, to have more vim and vigour, to have that anxious feeling that you can resolve the game with a counter-attack after going 1-0 up.

“That didn’t happen, and as in all games when you have a slim scoreline, there’s always that anxiety.”

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