Kondogbia set to face former club Valencia

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Kondogbia is yet to start a match for Atletico since signing for the club on 3 November, but is in Simeone's thoughts ahead of Sunday's (AEDT) away LaLiga game with Valencia, which has won just one of its past six.

Atletico comes into the game on the back of five straight league wins – four of which have come with a clean sheet – meaning it is only three points behind leader Real Sociedad, with two games in hand.

Kodogbia is ready to play a greater role in its title challenge by building on his two substitute appearances to date.

"Kondogbia has many possibilities to play on Saturday [Sunday AEDT]," Simeone, who has lost just two of his 21 managerial games against Valencia, said about the 27 year old.

"He has been growing a lot in training and we need him to have a high intensity.

"He is a very strong player, very big and needs to have a very good physical condition [before playing at his best].

"Before coming with us he had a period of inactivity and little by little the player we were looking for is being found." 

Simeone was asked about whether Serbian striker Ivan Saponjic, who is yet to feature this season, could play at number nine depending on the status of strikers Luis Suarez and Diego Costa.

"Suarez is in the process of recovery, he will surely have little work left to do for him to be with us," Simeone added, with the former Barcelona forward nearing a return after contracting coronavirus while on international duty with Uruguay.

"The doctor will explain Diego's situation. Costa is very important to us both in the dressing room and on the pitch, we need him "

The omens are good for Atletico, as Valencia has failed to win any of its past 11 LaLiga games against them, losing six, since a 3-1 win in October 2014. It is the host's longest active winless run against a top-flight opponent.

Simeone's side is also unbeaten in its past 11 league away games, its longest run without a defeat in the competition since 2017.