MADRID (Reuters) – Atletico Madrid forward Alvaro Morata has shrugged off a poor spell in England by hitting form again and his club need his goalscoring run to continue when they visit Alaves on Saturday with their La Liga title hopes up in the air.
Morata scored both goals in Spain’s 2-0 win over Malta on Tuesday to make it five strikes in his last six games for club and country, his best form since making a flying start when he joined Chelsea in 2017.
That promising start in the Premier League soon fizzled out, leading Morata to return to the club he joined as a child in a bid to recover his confidence.
Even though he is scoring again, he is determined to prove a point after his stints with Real Madrid and Chelsea ended in disappointment.
“Many people seem to hope I don’t score so they can make comments about me,” Morata told reporters after his brace against Malta.
“I feel that everyone is watching me closely and I have felt like everyone is criticising me since I started to play for Real Madrid’s first team. It used to affect me a lot, now less so, the important thing is to stay in the coach’s plans.”
The pressure is now on Morata to be consistent and score again for his stuttering side, who have had their confidence knocked following defeats by Juventus – which knocked them out of the Champions League – and Athletic Bilbao in La Liga.
Atletico’s hopes of capturing the Spanish league title are disappearing rapidly as they trail leaders Barcelona by 10 points.
Barca resume their title bid with a city derby at home to Espanyol but they have a shortage of forwards, with top scorers Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez facing a battle to be fit in time.
Messi strained a muscle while on international duty with Argentina against Venezuela, while Uruguay forward Suarez stayed in Barcelona to recover from an ankle sprain.
France forward Ousmane Dembele is ruled out of the derby with a hamstring injury.
On Sunday Real Madrid host struggling Huesca in Zinedine Zidane’s second game back in charge. He will be looking to build on their 2-0 win over Celta Vigo earlier this month.
(Reporting by Richard Martin, editing by Pritha Sarkar)