Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone has admitted he is unable to field Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata together in a striking partnership.
The two frontmen will be jostling to earn the nod to start against Athletic Bilbao on Sunday lunchtime, but the other is likely to have to settle for a place amongst the substitutes instead.
And Simeone believes that the players at his disposal means that only one of the two aces can play from the off – with Marcos Llorente in line to be fielded further forward for Atletico’s return to LaLiga action.
‘At this moment putting Costa and Morata together is not the same as in preseason,’ the 50-year-old said.
‘I explain it, now I can’t take advantage of the two together because I don’t have a team prepared to support the two forwards.
‘I prefer to harness the power that each one has separately until at some point they can play together. That’s why I explain why Alvaro and Costa do not play despite having Alvaro available.’
Llorente, whose heroics at Anfield secured Atletico a spot in the Champions League quarter-finals at the expense of holders Liverpool, has reportedly been spotted playing as an attacker in recent training sessions.
And when questioned over the intriguing tactical ploy, Simone hinted that system may be his preference for Atletico’s remaining fixtures this season.
‘We handle different situations and Marcos gives us important alternatives. We can play with three in the middle and Carrasco forward, Llorente to the right and Koke to the left.
‘I consider that Marcos has a very good physical condition and second-line finish. He already showed it when they thought about Anfield that taking him out for Costa was a defensive change and was very important for the team.
‘He gives us work in the middle, because he is a midfielder and has a route and a chance to score.’
Atletico have been gearing up the the return of the Spanish top flight at their Majadahonda training complex.
During their recent hour-and-a-half session, Llorente partnered Diego Costa up front in a classic 4-4-2 system – reportedly to great effect.
Reports suggest that Morata may be named on the bench on Sunday, although it remains to be seen whether Simeone will opt for the same team as in training.