Simeone boosted by Llorente's eye for goal

Omnisport

Marcos Llorente's eye for goal in training has persuaded Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone to use the midfielder in more advanced positions. 

Llorente was Atletico's hero with a two-goal salvo in extra time to inspire a thrilling last-16 Champions League win over holders Liverpool in March. 

That was Atleti's last game before the coronavirus shutdown but Simeone was evidently keen to see more of the same when they resumed at Athletic Bilbao last weekend, with the 25-year-old deployed behind Diego Costa in a 1-1 draw. 

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Llorente was on the bench for the midweek trip to Osasuna but came on with devastating effect during the second half – scoring once and laying on late goals for Alvaro Morata and Yannick Carrasco in a 5-0 romp. 

That goal and his Anfield brace account for three quarters of the ex-Real Madrid man's season haul, but Simeone feels he has spotted a prolific quality to Llorente's work – citing his previous success in redeploying Antoine Griezmann. 

"I saw Griezmann, who could play as a second striker or on the point of the attack, when everyone said he was a winger," Simeone told a news conference ahead of Saturday's LaLiga match against Real Valladolid. 

"Lucas [Hernandez, Bayern Munich's former Atletico centre-back] was world champion [with France] at left-back. 

"When the players show they have the tools, we must be attentive as coaches to take advantage of it. 

"We saw he was making goals, goals and goals in training and that is very important in the world of football." 

Morata was on target after coming off the bench to replace Diego Costa, having also been used as a substitute against Athletic. 

Simeone insists both strikers are a key part of his plans in a reconfigured attack. 

"I spoke to them a week before the start of LaLiga and I transmitted what I feel, they are very important players,” he said. 

"Each one can be useful to the team, both are very committed." 

Costa was awarded a commemorative plaque by team-mate Koke on behalf of the club after making his 200th Atletico appearance at Osasuna. 

"It's an honour to reach 200 games for Atleti," said the former Chelsea man, who is in his second spell with Simeone's team.

"When I arrived I wanted to play and feel I was important but never imagined I to reach such a milestone."

The Valladolid game will be Atletico's first at their Wanda Metropolitano home since LaLiga resumed behind closed doors.

They lie fourth in the battle for Champions League qualification and Costa added: "We all know we have the best fans in Spain, if not the world. We're going to miss their presence, but we know what we have to do.

"We have nine finals ahead of us and we have to win. We have to play as if the fans were here to earn the three points."

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