Who doesn't love seeing an exciting youth product coming through to the first team?

In Spain, they seem to produce them en masse, with technically proficient youngsters emerging regularly.

The most famous production line is surely La Masia, with Barcelona cultivating the likes of Andres Iniesta, Lionel Messi and, more recently, Gavi.

It understandably therefore gets overlooked just how many players come through the academy of Real Madrid, their fierce rivals.

La Fabrica – 'The Factory' – has produced some fine players down the years, including Emilio Butragueno, Raul and Iker Casillas.

Perhaps one of the reasons Madrid do not get the same credit as Barca for bringing through youngsters is because, quite often, their best graduates go on to spend their careers at other clubs.

And when Los Blancos make the short trip across the Spanish capital to face Atletico Madrid on Sunday, they will come up against some familiar faces.

Atleti head coach Diego Simeone has at his disposal five players who came through the youth system at Madrid.

Saul Niguez, Marcos Llorente, Mario Hermoso, Sergio Reguilon and Alvaro Morata were all La Fabrica players, although Saul actually moved to Atletico before making the step up to senior football.

In the Madrid squad, meanwhile, only four academy graduates players have made an appearance for Carlo Ancelotti's first team in Dani Carvajal, Nacho, Lucas Vazquez and Mariano Diaz.

This could be seen as a problem, but every player has to come through an academy somewhere, and even if Madrid do not always get the benefits of the talent they prepare, these youngers are often sold on for good money, allowing the club to spend big – a reputation that is far more widely acknowledged.

Madrid are not quite as flamboyant in the transfer market as in the peak years of the 'Galactico' era, but they still invest heavily in players ready to pull on the famous white shirt.

Rather than turn to their Castilla team in recent seasons, Madrid have splashed out on players of a similar age in young French midfield pair Eduardo Camavinga and Aurelien Tchouameni, yet La Fabrica has played a key role in raising the funds to make those signings.

 

In 2020, for example, Madrid sold Achraf Hakimi, Reguilon, Oscar Rodriguez, Miguel Baeza, Javi Sanchez and Dani Gomez for combined fees in excess of €90million.

In the transfer window just gone, they moved on Borja Mayoral, Mario Gila, Miguel Gutierrez and Victor Chust for more than €20m.

In the case of Hakimi, he has gone on to thrive, having a tremendous year at Inter before making an even bigger move to Paris Saint-Germain, where he is now considered one of the best full-backs in the game.

Reguilon did not enjoy quite the same success at Tottenham, finding himself out of favour under Antonio Conte before being loaned to Atletico.

One might wonder if Hakimi could have instead been given a chance at the Santiago Bernabeu. He would have competed with or surpassed Carvajal by now.

Reguilon, while less of a sure thing, departed only after Madrid had spent around €50m on Ferland Mendy, leaving no clear path to succeed Marcelo at left-back.

Perhaps it is Madrid's loss, but these two players brought in significant fees, and their willingness to allow potential first-team stars to move on in search of regular football is almost admirable. Other clubs could be accused of hoarding players, allowing them only to leave on loan year after year while still never giving them a chance to make their mark at their parent clubs.

Of Madrid's current crop, Bruno Iglesias, Sergio Arribas, Peter Federico and the wonderfully named centre-back Marvel – write the superhero pun headlines now – appear the ones to watch.

Whether they ever turn out for the first team, or they end up moving on to career paths elsewhere, their education at La Fabrica should at least set them up for success wherever they land.

Who knows? They may even be likelier to be wearing a red and white shirt than a solid white one if they ever make an appearance in a Madrid derby.

Real Madrid have joined the race to land Inter centre-back Milan Skriniar, with the 27-year-old's contract set to expire at the end of this season.

Skriniar has been one of the most in-demand defenders in the world this year, with numerous bids coming during the last transfer window from Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Tottenham.

While Inter are keen to fend off the outside interest and lock him into a new contract, the fact that he will be able to leave on a free transfer at the conclusion of the campaign could force their hand.

 

TOP STORY – REAL MADRID HOPE TO SECURE SKRINIAR ON FREE TRANSFER

Madrid took advantage of the free agent market this past window, signing Antonio Rudiger when his Chelsea contract finished, and Football Insider claim they have similar plans for Skriniar.

Inter reportedly turned down bids worth in the €60million range from PSG with the hope an upgraded contract could keep Skriniar in Italy long-term, but with time running out, Tuttosport is reporting the French giants will return with a bid of €30m in January.

The Football Insider report also stresses how important Tottenham's Antonio Conte views the big Slovakian, having started 31 out of 38 league games for Conte when he was with Inter for their Serie A title in 2020-21.

 

ROUND-UP

– 90min is reporting Arsenal are considering a move for 27-year-old free agent midfielder Xeka after his contract with Lille recently expired.

– According to The Mirror, Liverpool are leaning towards terminating the loan of Juventus' Arthur Melo just weeks after the 26-year-old midfielder arrived at Anfield.

– After an impressive loan stint at Fiorentina last season, Real Madrid right-back Alvaro Odriozola has caught the eye of another Italian club, with Juventus said to be interested in a January move in the range of €15m.

– Leicester City centre-back Caglar Soyuncu has decided to sign with Atletico Madrid when his contract finishes at the end of the season, per Mundo Deportivo.

– The Independent is reporting Everton are preparing a new contract offer for Anthony Gordon that will pay him six times his current salary.

Manchester United are reportedly ready for a major change, with Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak said to be a priority target.

Both Oblak, 29, and current United number one David de Gea, 31, are in the last season of their respective contracts. While a January move may be possible, it appears more likely United will try to bring in Oblak on an end-of-season free transfer, as Atletico will also want to hold onto their world-class keeper for as long as possible.

De Gea has publicly declared his desire to remain at Old Trafford, but if Erik ten Hag decides his time as the number one is coming to an end, then he will likely have to leave unless United want the most expensive backup keeper in the world.


TOP STORY – UNITED TARGET JAN OBLAK AS LONG-TERM GOALKEEPER REPLACEMENT

According to a report from French publication Jeunes Footeux, United are looking for a goalkeeper of international calibre and are willing to pay up for the man with 359 appearances for Atletico since 2014.

It claims United are willing to make an offer of €18million per season – almost double the current salary of the 29-year-old Slovenian – to convince him to make the jump to the Premier League.

The report includes a nugget of information about Paris Saint-Germain also being interested in securing Oblak's services, as questions continue to be asked about Gianluigi Donnarumma.

ROUND-UP

– GiveMeSport is reporting Arsenal are "very close" to securing a contract extension for 21-year-old Bukayo Saka.

– According to Calciomercato.com, Manchester City are joining Chelsea in the chase for Milan's Rafael Leao as he bides his time on signing a new contract.

– Calciomercato is also reporting Milan are looking for forward reinforcements after recent injuries to Divock Origi and Ante Rebic, with Club Brugge winger Noa Lang named as a possible future target. Lille's Jonathan David and Salzburg's Noah Okafor have also been linked.

Brighton are offering new deals to Alexis Mac Allister and Leandro Trossard in an effort to fend off transfer offers, according to Ekrem Konur with Fichajes.

– After being one of the most in-demand centre-backs in the world this past transfer window, Inter's Milan Skriniar is expected to be awarded with a new and improved contract, according to Foot Mercato.

Atletico Madrid are not negotiating with Barcelona over a permanent move for Antoine Griezmann, according to the club's chief executive Enrique Cerezo.

Speculation mounted on Tuesday that Atleti were in talks with Barca to sign the forward permanently.

Griezmann re-joined Atleti on loan from Barca last year, after spending two largely forgettable seasons at Camp Nou following a €120million move in 2019.

The France international featured 26 times in LaLiga last season, making 21 starts and scoring three goals.

He has not started any of Atleti's six games across all competitions this term, playing just 165 minutes, with Diego Simeone suggesting finances are a factor.

Atleti will reportedly owe Barca €40m if Griezmann plays over 50 per cent of the minutes in matches and, as such, the 31-year-old has consistently been subbed on after the hour.

 

It has not impacted his form, however, with Griezmann taking up a super-sub mantle, scoring three goals, including a 101st-minute winner against Porto in the Champions League last week.

Amid speculation of Barca taking legal action, talks between the clubs were said to be under way over a permanent move, but these rumours were shot down by Cerezo.

As reported by Marca, Cerezo said: "We haven't met with Barcelona nor do we have news that we are going to meet.

"The Griezmann issue is very clear, you already know it or you can imagine it. So until everything is resolved, if there is something to solve, we are at the same point.

"At the moment we are at the same point, nothing has changed with Barca on Griezmann. Right now there is nothing, it is the same as when we started the season."

Atleti face Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday in their second Champions League outing of the campaign.

Griezmann has been involved in 28 goals in 35 group stage appearances for Atleti, scoring 20 times and providing eight assists.

He has scored in their second match of the tournament in his last three seasons with the club, against Chelsea in 2017-18, Club Brugge in 2018-19 and Milan last term.

Champions League football resumes on Tuesday, with Robert Lewandowski's return to Bayern Munich with Barcelona being an obvious highlight.

Barcelona travel to Bavaria in a match few would be disappointed to see replicated in next year's final, with Atletico Madrid also travelling to Germany to take on Bayer Leverkusen.

After Premier League football was suspended at the weekend as a mark of respect following the death of the Queen, Liverpool are back in action against Ajax and are seeking to respond to a defeat to Napoli last week, while Tottenham travel to face Sporting CP.

Elsewhere, Inter face Viktoria Plzen after both sides lost their opening fixture and Eintracht Frankfurt, following defeat to Sporting, travel to Marseille – and the only remaining match of the day is Porto against Brugge.

For a closer look at all the action you can look forward to, Stats Perform has dived into the Opta data to highlight the most interesting facts for each match.

Bayern vs Barcelona

Scoring a hat-trick on his Champions League debut for Barcelona against Viktoria Plzen, Lewandowski returns to Bavaria with a devastating record this season and his goals in the 5-1 triumph saw Barcelona scoring more in one game than they had in their previous nine matches in the competition (4).

While that will give the visitors confidence, Barcelona have a poor record against the Bundesliga champions having suffered eight defeats in the competition to Bayern – twice as many as they have lost against any other opponent (4 vs Milan, Chelsea and PSG).

Four of those losses have come in the group stages, with Bayern winning both matches in 1998-99 and 2021-22 to boast a 100 per cent record against Barcelona in that regard, who have not lost more than twice against any other opponent in the group stage.

On top of that, Bayern have won 35 of their last 37 home matches in the group stages of the Champions League – the only exceptions being a 3-2 defeat to Manchester City in December 2013 and a 1-1 draw with Ajax in October 2018.

Liverpool vs Ajax

Liverpool won both meetings with Ajax in the 2020-21 Champions League group stages, the only campaign in the competition when they have met, with the Dutch side not beating Liverpool in any competition since a 5-1 win in December 1966.

Ajax's defeat to Liverpool in December 2020 is one of only two defeats that the Eredivisie champions have experienced in their last 25 matches (W13, D10) away from home in UEFA competition, the other being a 2-0 defeat to Getafe in February 2020 in the Europa League.

Having suffered defeat to Napoli last week, Liverpool are looking to avoid back-to-back defeats to start a Champions League campaign for the first time, while they have only lost their first home match in two of their previous 46 major European campaigns (W35, D9).

With seven Champions League wins in a row, Ajax travel to Anfield with a stellar run in the competition as only Bayern (8) boast a better winning streak currently.

Sporting vs Tottenham

While the two sides have never met competitively, Sporting are winless in all six of their Champions League matches against English opposition (D1, L5) and have lost all three of those games in Lisbon without scoring a single goal.

Tottenham's record against Portuguese opponents is scarce, winning against Pacos de Ferreira in the qualifying phases for the 2021-22 Europa League but not facing an opponent from the country in the Europe's premier competition since a 4-3 aggregate defeat to Benfica in the 1962-63 semi-final.

Sporting have never won their opening two matches in the Champions League, while Antonio Conte is looking to follow in the footsteps of Mauricio Pochettino as Spurs seek back-to-back wins to open a Champions League campaign for the first time since 2017-18 season under the Argentine.

Bayer Leverkusen vs Atletico

Neither side has a particularly good record to encourage them heading into Tuesday's tie, with Leverkusen having won just four of their last 20 Champions League matches (D8, L8), while Atletico have only kept one clean sheet in 21 away matches against German opposition in major UEFA competitions.

Atletico have only won one of four away matches against Leverkusen, a 4-2 victory in February 2017 in the Champions League, and have won only one of their last seven matches in Germany – though that was the match in 2017.

Late drama is to be expected whenever Atletico compete in the Champions League, with five of their last 10 goals in the competition coming in the 90th minute of matches.

Other fixtures:

Viktoria Plzen vs Inter

8 - Viktoria Plzen have won their last eight home European matches (including qualifiers), scoring at least twice in every win (21 in total). They have only lost one of their last 19 on home soil in European football (W16 D2), a 5-0 reverse against Real Madrid during their last UEFA Champions League campaign in November 2018.

2 - Since the start of the 2020-21 campaign, Inter striker Lautaro Martínez has scored just two goals from 48 shots (inc. blocks) in the UEFA Champions League. The Argentine’s shot conversion rate of 4.2 per cent (including blocks) is the lowest of any player to have attempted 30+ shots during this period.

Porto vs Brugge

3 - Porto have lost their last three UEFA Champions League matches, with two of those coming against Atletico; they have never lost four in a row in the competition before.

1 - In major European competition, Club Brugge have lost five of their six away matches in Portugal (W1), their one win coming against Sporting Braga in September 2011 in the UEFA Europa League.

Marseille vs Eintracht Frankfurt

15 - Marseille have lost 15 of their last 16 UEFA Champions League matches (W1), with the exception coming in their last home game in the competition in December 2020 against Olympiacos.

2 - Marseille and Eintracht Frankfurt will face in European competition for only the second time, also meeting in the 2018-19 UEFA Europa League group stages. Frankfurt won both matches (2-1 away, 4-0 home).

After making a terrific start to the season, Arsenal are reportedly looking to bolster their squad further in the January transfer window as they weigh up a move for Barcelona winger Ferran Torres.

Torres, 22, was acquired by the Spanish giants this January after emerging at Manchester City as one of Spain's top young talents, costing €55million.

With his playing time inconsistent, and the numerous questions about Barcelona's finances and their need to sell players, it appears Torres is someone the club feels comfortable parting ways with less than 12 months after his arrival.

 

TOP STORY – ARSENAL WANT TO BRING TORRES BACK TO THE PREMIER LEAGUE

Torres has failed to establish himself as a regular starter, and with plenty of forward depth after the expensive additions of Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha – along with Ousmane Dembele and Ansu Fati already being on the books – Barcelona are said to be looking to recoup their spending.

Fichajes is reporting Barcelona will be setting their asking price at the full amount they paid City, but for a young player who already has 13 international goals in 28 caps for Spain, it is not an unreasonable figure.

Meanwhile, 90min claims Barcelona are still looking to cash in on Frenkie de Jong after a lengthy transfer saga with Manchester United ended with no deal, indicating they may need to sell at least one player to keep balancing their books.

 

ROUND-UP

– Calciomercato are reporting Chelsea remain interested in United's Marcus Rashford, along with Atletico Madrid, if he does not receive a contract extension.

– According to The Sun, Wolves and Liverpool will both attempt to sign Benfica midfielder Enzo Fernandez, just months after he arrived from River Plate on a bargain €8million deal.

Bayern Munich 's sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic has denied enquiring with Tottenham about the availability of Harry Kane, per Sport1.

– Corriere dello Sport is reporting Rafael Leao's contract demands with Milan have boosted his chances of leaving the club, with Chelsea named as the primary interested party. 

Newcastle United's hunt for a goalkeeper did not end with their signing of free agent Loris Karius, with Portuguese publication JN reporting they are considering activating the £51m release clause for 22-year-old Porto goalie Diogo Costa.

Liverpool reportedly had a deadline-day bid for Moises Caicedo rejected by Brighton and Hove Albion.

The 20-year-old is hot property with a long list of suitors, after an impressive second half of last season in the Premier League.

Caicedo joined Brighton from Independiente del Valle in January 2021 on a four-and-half-year contract.

TOP STORY – BRIGHTON TO OPEN TALKS WITH CAICEDO

Brighton and Hove Albion will open contract talks with hot property Moises Caicedo according to The Mirror.

The Ecuadorian has interest from Liverpool, Manchester United, Arsenal and Chelsea.

The Seagulls are determined to fend off those suitors by pinning Caicedo down to a new contract.


ROUND-UP

– Fichajes reports French giants Paris Saint-Germain will look to sign Antoine Griezmann after this season, as they begin planning for Lionel Messi's departure. Griezmann is currently on a two-year loan at Atletico Madrid from Barcelona. Messi is contracted until mid-2023 and view Griezmann as a suitable replacement if they cannot convince him to extend his stay.

Barcelona will resume their chase for Manchester City's Bernardo Silva in January, reports Sport. LaLiga has increased the club's salary cap, allowing them to pursue the Portuguese midfielder again.

– The Telegraph claims that among those under consideration for the vacant Brighton managerial role are ex-Shakhtar Donetsk boss Roberto de Zerbi and Bodo/Glimt's Kjetil Knutsen.

Carlo Ancelotti is set to be rewarded for his successful 2021-22 campaign with Real Madrid set to offer him a new contract, according to Marca. Ancelotti's current deal runs until 2024.

Diego Simeone praised his team's desire to take risks after Atletico Madrid beat Celta Vigo 4-1 at the Civitas Metropolitano.

Goals from Angel Correa, Rodrigo de Paul and Yannick Carrasco were added to by an Unai Nunez own goal after Gabriel Veiga scored a consolation for the visitors.

De Paul scored and recorded an assist in the same LaLiga game for the first time in his career, after 75 league games with Valencia (34) and Atletico (41).

It was the third time Atletico have scored at least four goals at home in LaLiga in 2022, just one fewer than in the previous four years combined in the competition (once in 2018, twice in 2020 and once in 2021).

Their only other home league game in 2022-23 saw them lose to Villarreal, but they fared better on Saturday despite having to soak up some pressure from Celta, especially early in the game.

Speaking to DAZN after the win, Simeone said: "After the defeat against Villarreal we needed to start adding points in LaLiga and, little-by-little, we improved.

"I think we still have situations to grow. Today at the start we had some losses that gave them clear scoring chances, but at least there was an attempt to try to play better and for that you have to take risks many times, but it is also true that the third goal [Carrasco's] was a great goal.

"We scored the four goals very forcefully, with a lot of desire to get into scoring positions."

 

Simeone made six changes from the team that so dramatically beat Porto 2-1 in the Champions League in midweek, with Ivo Grbic, Mario Hermoso, Nahuel Molina, Geoffrey Kondogbia, Thomas Lemar and Correa coming into the side, allowing him to rest some key players.

"We made many changes, we knew that after the Champions League the body is not the same and neither is the head," he said. "They created important scoring situations for us, especially the one that Ivo manages to neutralise hand in hand.

"In the second half we talked and we wanted to improve. The second half was much more complete, except for the end. Until minute 70 we had a good second half."

One of the regulars who missed out was goalkeeper Jan Oblak, replaced by Grbic, but the Atletico head coach was happy with the performance of Croatian stopper, who made two big saves early in the game when the score was still 0-0.

"I understood [Oblak] was not in his best shape to be able to give 100 per cent," Simeone said. "It was a great opportunity for Ivo, and he took advantage of it.

"It makes us very happy for him because he is working. When you work, in the end you get the rewards."

A goal and an assist from Rodrigo de Paul helped Atletico Madrid record their first home win of the season in LaLiga as they beat Celta Vigo 4-1 on Saturday.

Diego Simeone's men were made to work for their victory, with Celta more than a match in most areas for the hosts in the first half, but they could not keep up in the second.

Angel Correa gave Atletico the lead in the opening 10 minutes, before De Paul's deflected effort early in the second half and a superb run and finish from Yannick Carrasco confirmed the win.

Substitute Gabriel Veiga pulled a goal back for the visitors, but an own goal from Unai Nunez ended any hopes for them.

Jan Oblak missed out for Atletico, despite playing in the dramatic midweek Champions League victory against Porto after suffering a knock at Real Sociedad last weekend.

Ivo Grbic deputised and was called into action after just a minute as a long ball was misjudged by Mario Hermoso, allowing Jorgen Strand Larsen in on goal, but the Norwegian could not beat the goalkeeper, who also had to save a Hugo Mallo header from point-blank range from a corner shortly after.

After surviving those scares, Atletico were ahead in the ninth minute after a fine one-touch move down the right as a cross-field ball from Reinildo to Nahuel Molina led to a cushioned pass to De Paul, who immediately slid the ball across to Correa to fire into the roof of the net.

The game calmed down after that, and it took until early in the second half for Atletico to double their lead as a Carrasco cross found substitute Koke, who laid the ball back to De Paul and his shot from the edge of the box deflected in off Nunez, wrong-footing the helpless Agustin Marchesin in the Celta goal.

Carrasco made it three in the 66th minute after picking the ball up on the halfway line and dribbling towards the penalty area, cutting in from the left before moving back onto his left foot and firing past Marchesin at the near post.

Celta got a goal back with 19 minutes remaining as a through ball from Iago Aspas down the right found Veiga, whose shot squirmed under Grbic, but the contest was over when Cunha raced past Nunez, before hitting a cross that deflected in off the visiting defender.

Xavi said Barcelona expect Antoine Griezmann to make his Atletico Madrid stay permanent amid reports the Catalan giants could take legal action if los Colchoneros fail to purchase the forward.

Griezmann is midway through a two-year loan spell at Atleti, but Diego Simeone recently suggested his minutes were being managed in order to avoid activating a purchase clause in their deal with Barcelona.

The France international – who scored a 101st-minute winner in Atleti's Champions League opener against Porto on Wednesday – has made four substitute appearances in LaLiga this season, totalling just 109 minutes on the pitch.

On Friday, reports suggested Barcelona could take legal action over Atleti's reluctance to purchase Griezmann, after he featured more regularly in his first season on loan in the Spanish capital.

Asked about Griezmann's situation ahead of Barcelona's trip to Cadiz, Xavi said: "This is a question for Cholo [Simeone], who has already made it clear that he is a club man.

"It is not an issue for me. Look, we have held meetings with the club, talking about players, but I have not spoken with Antoine's club. I can't do anything else."

Pressed on whether he would welcome Griezmann back to Camp Nou, the Blaugrana boss said: "It's a club issue, it's not up to me, the clubs must talk. 

"In fact, we think that he is already an Atletico Madrid player."

But Simeone was reluctant to comment on the forward's future ahead of Atleti's meeting with Celta Vigo, declaring: "I have been very clear on a day-to-day basis on this matter. 

"It's been four dates and I've always said the same. I have nothing more to add."

Referencing the club hierarchy's apparent desire to hold Griezmann back, he then added: "Where the captain commands, the sailor does not command."

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone hopes goalkeeper Jan Oblak has avoided any serious injury after being forced out of Saturday's 1-1 draw at Real Sociedad due to a thigh injury.

The Slovenia international was replaced in the 85th minute after colliding with Reinildo in an attempt to thwart Umar Sadiq.

Atletico will be sweating on Oblak's fitness given the vice-captain's importance to the side, winning LaLiga's Zamora Trophy five times including in 2020-21. Oblak did not miss one match for Atleti last term.

"Let's hope that Oblak won't be out for too long," Simeone told reporters. "The doctors will tell you in the next few days."

Simeone refused to be drawn on the VAR after his side were denied an Alvaro Morata goal in the 29th minute for an apparent Joao Felix handball, while Umar Sadiq's equaliser for Sociedad also came with a hint of handball but stood.

However, Atletico team manager Tomas Renones was more forthright about the officiating, claiming the referees had a "very bad day".

"We have to understand that referees can also have bad days," he said. "Today is a clear example of a very bad day.

"The general feeling is one of great disappointment. We have seen different judgements. The referees give us a talk every year at the beginning of the season and then what is carried out is totally different.

"We have seen Joao Felix have a goal disallowed because it hits his arm and then there is a very similar play by Real Sociedad where he shoots, it hits his arm, it's a goal and the VAR doesn't intervene. I don’t understand the judgement of both sides.

"Referees can make mistakes, but the consequences are for us."

Real Sociedad came from behind to claim a 1-1 draw from an entertaining clash with Atletico Madrid in LaLiga, as Alexander Isak's replacement Umar Sadiq scored on his debut.

La Real fell behind early on when Alvaro Morata pounced to continue his fine start to the new season, but the hosts gave as good as they got in a first half that saw both teams hit the woodwork.

Having been introduced as a half-time substitute, Sadiq met Momo Cho's hanging cross to nod home a leveller, making an instant impact for his new club.

Diego Simeone's men stood firm despite the hosts enjoying the better of a lively second half, ensuring the two teams remain locked together on seven points from four games in LaLiga.

Atleti needed just five minutes to hit the front, with Morata on hand to lash home the rebound after Yannick Carrasco hit the near post directly from a corner.

But Jan Oblak was the busier of the two goalkeepers in the early stages, producing a strong save to deny Mikel Merino from long range 20 minutes in, shortly after the Sociedad captain had volleyed against the left-hand post. 

Morata was denied a brace 10 minutes later when Joao Felix handled in the build-up to his sweeping left-footed finish, before Jose Gimenez rattled the crossbar with an incredible long-range strike as the break approached.

The hosts continued to push after Sadiq replaced Alexander Sorloth, and the 6ft 4in striker made use of his frame when climbing to power a left-wing cross beyond Oblak at the back post after 55 minutes. 

The offside flag came to Atleti's rescue with 13 minutes remaining when Sadiq latched onto Takefusa Kubo's pass to lob Oblak, but the visitors ultimately stood firm to claim a share of the spoils.

What does it mean? Atleti struggle in San Sebastian 

Atletico Madrid came into this match having won each of their two away games at the start of the season, but can hardly have any complaints with the draw after allowing La Real to take charge.

By fighting back to level the scores, La Real avoided suffering three successive home league defeats for the first time since February 2007, and ended Los Colchoneros' run of four consecutive wins on the road.

Morata's revival continues

Morata has been in fine form since returning from an underwhelming two-year loan spell at Juventus, and needed just five minutes to score his third league goal of the campaign.

Meanwhile, the Spain international has now contributed to at least one goal on each of his last four appearances against La Real in LaLiga (four goals, one assist).

Sadiq strikes early

Having impressed for Almeria in the early weeks of the campaign, Sadiq was the man selected by Imanol Alguacil to fill the shoes of Newcastle United's new record signing Isak, and the Nigeria striker did not need long to make an impression.

Having netted within 10 minutes of making his Sociedad bow, Sadiq has now scored on each of his last three appearances in LaLiga. 

What's next?

Atletico Madrid begin their Champions League campaign at home to Porto on Wednesday, while Sociedad face a trip to Manchester United in the Europa League one day later.

Diego Simeone has suggested Atletico Madrid are limiting Antoine Griezmann's minutes in order to avoid activating a purchase clause in the forward's loan deal. 

Griezmann is midway through a two-year loan spell from Barcelona, but Atleti must reportedly make the France international's stay permanent should he play over 45 minutes in the majority of their games. 

While Griezmann made 21 league starts for Los Colchoneros last season, scoring three goals and adding four assists, he has been reduced to a bit-part role at the outset of the new campaign.

The 31-year-old has impressed during his three substitute appearances this season, scoring twice, but has only played 82 minutes in LaLiga.

Asked whether his management of Griezmann's playing time was dictated by club policy, Simeone said: "They have known me for 10 years. I am a club man and always will be.

"We must try to make them [the players] understand that entering 30 minutes well is more important than playing 60 badly. 

"Everyone wants to play more minutes and that is why the coaches look for the best situations for the team."

Atleti were relatively quiet in the transfer market, bringing in Nahuel Molina, Axel Witsel and Sergio Reguilon, while Renan Lodi's loan move to Nottingham Forest represented their most high-profile outgoing.

Simeone blamed their lack of activity on an inability to generate funds in recent years, adding: "We have been on vacation since May, June is complicated, in July we settled in and August was complicated again. 

"It seemed that four could go, three come in... but I think the pandemic crisis has a lot to do with it. We have not been able to sell in recent years and that creates difficulties."

Atleti travel to Real Sociedad for their fourth outing of the season on Saturday, having claimed six points from their opening three games in LaLiga.

Griezmann, who began his career with La Real, has recorded a goal contribution on each of his last three league visits to the Reale Arena (two goals, one assist).

Atletico Madrid have signed full-back Sergio Reguilon on loan from Tottenham until the end of the season.

The six-cap Spain international is a replacement for Renan Lodi, who departed the Civitas Metropolitano for Nottingham Forest on Monday.

Reguilon joined Spurs from Real Madrid in September 2020 but, after a positive start, he was unable to hold down a place in the side.

He featured 67 times in his first two seasons at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, but he had yet to feature this season and Antonio Conte made it clear he was not part of his plans.

Both sides confirmed on Tuesday that Reguilon will spend the rest of the 2022-23 season in the Spanish capital.

Reguilon spent 15 years of his career on the books of Atletico's fierce rivals Real, whom he joined at the age of eight, emerging through the youth system before making 22 first-team appearances.

However, Atleti head coach Diego Simeone said earlier this week he has no issues signing a player with strong links to Los Blancos.

"Juanfran had previously played for Real Madrid, as had Filipe Luis – both are now part of the history of this club," Simeone said.

"Even today, Alvaro [Morata] is doing well; Mario [Hermoso] gave a lot to the title-winning squad two seasons ago. 

"[Marcos] Llorente was off the charts when we won the title. I look at all these as football players."

The deal for 25-year-old Reguilon, who spent the 2019-20 season on loan with Sevilla, is not believed to include a purchase option at the end of the campaign.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel has been open about his desire for more signings ahead of the closure of the transfer window.

The London club have been one of the big spenders during this transfer window but Tuchel believes they need more reinforcements to be competitive in the title race.

The Blues have lost Andreas Christensen, Antonio Rudiger, Emerson Palmieri and Timo Werner, while Romelu Lukaku departed on loan and Marcos Alonso is expected to join Barcelona.

TOP STORY – CHELSEA PLOTTING AUBA SWOOP

Chelsea are plotting a deadline day move to land ex-Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang from Barcelona, reports The Guardian.

Blues boss Tuchel has asked owner Todd Boehly to free up £200million with three targets in mind before Thursday's deadline, headlined by the Gabon international.

Chelsea are set to close out a deal for Leicester City defender Wesley Fofana for £70m, while Everton's Anthony Gordon is also on their wish list.

Aubameyang has only been used once for eight minutes off the bench this LaLiga season, with Robert Lewandowski starring up front for the Blaugrana.

ROUND-UP

–  Liverpool are pondering a late £42m bid for Brighton and Hove Albion midfielder Moises Caicedo,  according to The Sun. Brighton, however, believe that the Ecuador international is worth almost double that price.

– Metro reports  Cristiano Ronaldo could seal a move from Manchester United to Napoli this week. Ronaldo's agent Jorge Mendes is working on a swap deal, possibly involving Victor Osimhen .

– La Gazzetta dello Sport claims  Paris Saint-Germain 's €23m offer with add-ons for Napoli midfielder Fabian Ruiz has been accepted and he will undergo a medical on Tuesday. The Spaniard has been frozen out after refusing to extend his contract, which has less than 12 months to run.

Tottenham have revived their interest in Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco,  according to the Telegraph. The 28-year-old Belgian has two years to run on his contract.

– The Sun claims  Wolves have rejected a bid worth £8.5m from Everton for midfielder Leander Dendoncker .

– Barcelona and Manchester United have not reached an agreement on a deal for USA international Sergino Dest , reports Cadena COPE.

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