Match preview: Udinese vs. Atlético

Atleti turn their attentions to the Europa League after domestic barren spell

Mario and Domínguez getting off the plane in Italy  (clubatleticodemadrid.com)

Mario and Domínguez getting off the plane in Italy
(clubatleticodemadrid.com)

Atlético return to Europa League action tomorrow evening, and will look to put their La Liga woes behind them by getting a crucial three points away to Italian high-flyers Udinese.

While we wait for UEFA’s decision on whether to let FC Sion back into the competition, both teams should be going all out for the win in the Stadio Friuli on Thursday, where kick-off is scheduled for 19:00 CET.

When the draw for the Group Stages was made, many pinpointed the trip to Udine as the toughest of our fixtures. The tie with Rennes back in Matchday 2 means that los Rojiblancos cannot afford to lose if they want to qualify for the last 32 of the competition.

Just hours before that draw, Atlético were returning from Portugal on the back of an impressive 4-0 win over Vitória de Guimarães.

Since then, Atleti have been considerably poor away from home and have found the net on just one occasion.

Tomorrow’s game is made even tougher for Gregorio Manzano’s team with the news that Arda Turan, Eduardo Salvio, Antonio López and Sílvio will remain unavailable due to injury problems, although all could be in contention for Sunday’s home game against Mallorca.

Another player who didn’t travel with the squad this morning is Sergio Asenjo, who was replaced in the squad by Joel.

However, despite coming off the back of two goalless draws, the players remain upbeat of finding the net against the Zebrette.

José Antonio Reyes was guilty of missing chances in both of those games but, in a press conference earlier this week, he stressed that the team would soon start scoring.

“We know that the streak will change and we’ll start scoring goals,” said the former Spanish international.

“We must look ahead and think about Thursday’s game, which is important. We’ll try to score a goal and win”

Striker Adrián echoed Reyes’ comments in a separate meeting with the press yesterday, and also highlighted the importance of victory against the team currently joint-top of Serie A.

“It will be a tough game, especially at their home. We know that as an Italian team they will make things difficult.” the 23-year-old said.

Our opponents will have been keeping a particularly keen eye on our stalemate with Granada on Saturday, as they have a total of five players out on loan at the Andalusian outfit.

Much like Atlético, Udinese were frustrated by a newly promoted club at the weekend, as Atalanta held them to a 0-0 draw in Bergamo.

Still unbeaten in the league, the black and white’s also have a perfect record at home this season, although they were beaten by Arsenal in a Champions League qualifier back in August, dropping into the Europa League as a result.

Slovenian goalkeeper Samir Handanovič has been one of the star performers of their season so far, and spoke about his team’s chances earlier in the week.

“Atlético are a top team, we have to be ready as it will be a difficult test for us,” he told Gazzetta dello Sport.

“We are doing well domestically, and we hope to get three points against Atlético to get closer to qualifying for the next round”

Missing for the home team will be Giovanni Pasquale and Paulo Barreto through injury, and reports in Italy also suggest that captain and top scorer Antonio di Natale will be rested ahead Sunday’s match against Novara.

Manzano will address journalists in the Stadio Friuli after a training session on Wednesday evening, accompanied by one of the captains in Gabi.

The Jaén born manager has made just one change to the squad from Saturday’s game, but will hope that on this occasion they will return with the three points.

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Joel
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luis, Álvaro Domínguez, Perea, Miranda, Pulido
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Reyes, Assunçao, Gabi, Koke, Juanfran, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Pizzi

Udinese match selection:
Goalkeepers: Handanovič, Padelli, Romo
Defenders: Armero, Basta, Benatia, Domizzi, Ekstrand, Larangeira, Pereyra, Piccoli
Midfielders: Abdi, Asamoah, Badu, Doubai, Isla, Pinzi
Forwards: Di Natale, Fabbrini, Floro Flores

Referee: Alon Yefet (Israel)

Who do you want to see in our starting XI on Thursday?


  • Ringo

    I expect about the same midfielders and forwards starting as the ones versus Granada…

    I hope, though, that Koke will start and Pizzi instead of a midfielder.
    Reyes has to start now, since both Arda and Salvio are injured. I wonder if Juanfran starts as RB again, probably not if Manzano already brings along six defenders…

    This is the formation I’d pick:

    “Juanfran – Miranda – Dominguez – Filipe

    Gabi – Koke – Diego

    Reyes – Falcao – Pizzi”

    But because it’s away, untried and against a not too weak side, three defensive midfielders are expected.

  • starvs

    I agree with Ringo on the lineup completely except maybe Perea at right back (God the fact that I had to write that after his recent performance is a bad sign for this team).

  • Ringo

    That might be more secure, yes, but judging Juanfran by just one game might not be the best thing to do.
    He’ll never be a great RB, but he could be very useful, as long as we don’t get a decent back-up or one of the canteranos steps it up, we should give him a chance every time Silvio cannot play. And this way he won’t have to go towards the center with his dribbles and runs and stick to the wings for crosses, etc, whenever he joins attack.

  • Martin Rosenow

    From what I read earlier in the week in AS, Manzano will start Perea at right back.

    A reporter of Onda Cero radio in Madrid had said on Saturday that Perea himself requested not to be played at right back anymore following the match in Rennes.

    But based on what AS reported, Manzano didn’t play Perea in order to let him rest after his travel to South America, which kind of belies the Onda Cero claim.

  • Matthijs

    I think Adrian needs to play, he played well in the game against Granada.

    A draw will be a good result in this tough game.

  • 92

    Udinese is going to be a very tough opponent, they are doing good in Serie A and they have very good players, so I agree with Matthijs a draw is the most likely result we can possibly achieve since we have a lot of injured players and our team is not complete, plus Manzano is gonna play defensively just like he does in all away matches.
    I would have like to see Kader or Collado or any other canterano since we got so many players injured, and we need to score goals, Falcao is the only goalscorer so far, and this could be a very good moment to use the cantera a little more, and more specifically Collado who is a goalscorer but then again, Manzano seems to have little faith in our cantera, and that is not a good thing.

  • Javi

    Courtois
    Perea-Miranda-Dominguez-Luis
    Koke-Suarez-Diego
    Adrian-Falcao-Pizzi

    Although Mario has had a couple shitty games we need a strong defensive mid, Gabi could be another choice-he’s been bad lately too! Tiago and assuncao are even worse
    We should get reinforcements for the midfield in the winter break and get rid of some dead weight

  • 92

    Speaking of Udinese, Mauricio Isla says he is ready to leave Udinese and move to a bigger club, I know the transfer window opens like in 3 months so I suggest that we start conversations with his agent and begin negotianting for his transfer as soon as the window opens before Inter snaps him, just like they try to do with other players.

  • Javi

    @92 isla is very versatile, He plays back, mid, wing and forward; with all the rotations Manzano likes isla would be a good pick up for us. Good eye dude

  • Javi

    By the way our boy Torres scored two for Chelsea today
    Meanwhile Aguero reportedly mocked Villareal players in the tunnel after his last minute gol won the game for city
    Res Ipsa Loquitur: the facts speak for themselves-a favorite lawyer saying.

  • 92

    You said it Javi we definately need to reinforce our midfield and that’s why I thought about Isla, as you stated he can play different positions and could perfectly fit in our 4-3-3 scheme, passport wouldn’t be and issue as well as language and he could be a mentor for Kader, since it is been said Kader can also play as many positions as Isla, anyways. How about you?, who are your canditates to strenghten our midfield?.
    Changing the subject, I saw Torres too, he did a great job, I feel happy for him hopefully he keeps up the good work, on the other hand poor Genk, Courtois must be heartbroken!, or perhaps he was supporting Chelsea?!, I think we should ask him which team did he go for!.

  • k14

    Playing a canterano as a RB isn’t an option to be honest, no one should fill a defensive spot unless hes been training with the squad.
    Defense is all about coordination rather than talent,
    using someone with no experience with the squad will sure be a suicidal move.

  • Javi

    @92 I’d love to see Borja Valero in red and white stripes

  • Kaminero

    Aguirre used Antonio Lopez as a right-back and it wasn’t half bad. Maybe Manzano should give it a thought.

  • Javi

    Valero with Diego could be our version of Xavi-iniesta
    As a defensive mid I like lass diarra

  • 92

    Borja Valero is quite a good player and Lass Diarra too, Lass can even play as RB, I remember that not long ago someone said that Mohamed Sissoko could be a good option too and he would be a good signing too, another player I have in mind is Moussa Sissoko, he is French national team material and I think he is another good option.

  • 92

    @Kaminero, Antonio Lopez s RB sounds good to me but unfortunately he is still injured at the moment, I agree Manzano should give him a chance.