Seville, Valencia and Villarreal. For many years when Simeone talked about rivals those were the names that came out of his mouth. Villarreal, Valencia, Seville. At them, Atlético looks again in this “transition” season. Madrid and Barça are far, 13 points one, 10 the other. The fight is the Champions League, the places that give access to be in it next season. Atletico is 4th, they returned to them last day, Valencia, 7th, two points less. In the first round his confrontation ended in a draw. Whoever wins today takes more than three points, also takes the goal average. They can call it a match but it’s really a battle for the Champions League. Very hard. The two need to win it.Valencia grabs Mestalla. He hasn’t lost at home since April 2019. That is, throughout this season. That is, neither Barça nor Madrid nor Seville managed to win there. It is the good face of the Celades team, that of Mestalla. Outside it happens like Atlético, it’s Mr. Hyde Three home games in 2020, three wins. Two out, two reviews. He still licks the wounds of last week in Getafe. Gayà arrives, Gameiro and Cheryshev return but not Coquelin. Rodrigo either. As in the first round you can not face the team that was about to be yours in summer. Knee. Guedes could play on his hitch, and so Celades keeps his usual midfield. Ferran and Soler for the bands. Kondogbia and Parejo. The lack of solidity is his fate, how much he grants, aggravated by Garay’s injury. Diakhaby or Mangala, the doubt. Morata, with Atlético Simeone travels with Morata. The plan is to have minutes, the goal is Liverpool. Giménez also travels. In the infirmary there are only Trippier, Herrera and João Félix. Starting, as before Granada, Atlético will play without pure strikers, with Vitolo and Correa. The Argentine, the piece chosen for Rodrigo to come and go, is essential today. Six goals and six assists. Fundamental more than ever, the team, the shield and all the others are put behind their backs. Good thing he didn’t leave. Felipe returns to eleven and breathes the Cholo: also Arias. You have tried Llorente on the right. It goes to more and more. Face Mr. Hyde Atleti is only three wins out. A poor baggage for a team that, as always, first of all looks for something. The Champions. The train next season passes through Valencia today.
The 5: Takeaways from the Coyotes’ introduction of Alex Meruelo Locally though, there’s more of an appreciation for the fact that David Johnson and Markus Golden will be returning to a roster that already boasts star power in Larry Fitzgerald, Patrick Peterson and Chandler Jones. Are there question marks? Absolutely. But there’s upside too.FALLINGDiamondback BatsArizona has mustered just 16 runs in the last eight games, going 1-7 in that stretch. And now A.J. Pollock is out four to eight weeks with an avulsion fracture in his left thumb. Not great.On the one hand, the D-backs have played a brutal schedule and still sit atop the NL West. On the other, though, they’ve been struggling to score runs for awhile now, and their leader in pretty much every major offensive category is on the shelf. Somebody else needs to step up in a hurry.The Anti-Tanking StanceThis has always been my stance, and it’s not going to change. Sports are about competing and going all out to win now, not damaging your team’s culture by trying to lose games and hoping some ping pong balls fall your way so you might be able to draft a 19-year old who might pan out and might help you in three years.That said, the team with the worst record has now won the NBA Draft lottery four times in a row, so tanking isn’t going anywhere. Ironically though, the Suns veered more towards that “strategy” in 2017, and dropped to the fourth pick. This time around, they seemed to be trying, couldn’t win anyway and finally got the top pick they need. And if the early returns on Markelle Fultz and Lonzo Ball are any indication, this was the better year to land No. 1 anyway. Grace expects Greinke trade to have emotional impact Top Stories (AP photos) 3 Comments Share ErrorOK ErrorOKBasketball enthusiasts in the Valley haven’t had much to cheer for over the last eight years, and they’ve never had a No. 1 pick to look forward to. The fanbase needed this more than the team itself.Ayton vs DoncicNow that we finally have something good, let’s argue about it. The public opinion locally leans heavily towards the Suns drafting DeAndre Ayton, and that’s great if he truly is the best player out there. But if that stance is being influenced at all by the notion that he played his college basketball in the state, we probably need to take a more open-minded approach here.Ayton is probably the guy. But it’s at least worth spending the next few weeks to take a long look at Luka Doncic, who many scouts and basketball insiders nationally feel is the best prospect in this class. Neglecting to do that would be like hiring a coach without interviewing any other candidates.Thing is, the Suns cannot get this wrong. So even if Doncic has the higher ceiling, Ayton may still be the way to go if he’s the safer pick. Especially if he can contribute from the perimeter, the way NBA big men need to in 2018.Cardinals OptimismThis certainly doesn’t apply nationally, where the popular stance on the Cardinals is that they’ll wind up near the bottom of the division. Vegas is even mentioning them in the same breath as the Cleveland Browns when it comes to projected win totals, which is just mean. Derrick Hall satisfied with D-backs’ buying and selling Former Cardinals kicker Phil Dawson retires It’s been a roller coaster of a week for Arizona sports fans, with the Suns landing the first overall pick in the NBA Draft Lottery and the Diamondbacks continuing to struggle on offense.Here’s a quick look at the sports topics trending up and down this week:RISINGThe Collective Morale of Suns FansIn the span of a half hour on Tuesday evening, the narrative around the city changed from “we’re going to get stuck with the fourth pick like we always do,” to “can this team contend for a playoff spot in 2019?” And the Suns didn’t even really do anything. That’s a good night.Related LinksThere’s no debate: The Deandre Ayton vs. Luka Doncic debate is realSuns win NBA Draft Lottery, will pick No. 1 in 2018 NBA DraftChange of fortune has Diamondbacks fighting for local attention