When they host Mallorca at the Vicente Calderón Sunday, Atlético will look to unleash their tiger claws as opposed to the kitten paws they’ve been wielding about the past couple of weeks.
Gregorio Manzano’s men come into this encounter following back-to-back scoreless ties in league play, and on the back of another punchless mid-week performance away at Udinese that ended in a stunning 2-0 loss.
Colombian striker Radamel Falcao García suffered a minor back sprain in Udine, and will be a game-time decision Sunday.
The 25-year-old has gone five straight games without finding the back of the net, though he still leads the team in goals scored with six in all competitions.
The mounting pressure to score seems to be getting to the former Porto man.
Falcao was on the brink of tears during an interview on the sidelines immediately after the game in Italy, and as further proof of his emotions getting the best of him, with his voice quavering, he accused the referee of being “a disaster”.
But his manager isn’t discouraged by his dry spell.
“When I coached Atlético a couple of years ago, Torres went seven games without scoring and some would say he had to be benched,” Manzano said in Saturday’s pre-game press conference.
“At the end of the season he had about 20 goals.”
With Atlético lagging behind in the classification table and letting attainable points go out the door week-after-week, Manzano himself is also starting to feel the heat.
“Statistics are always broken and so are streaks, good ones and bad ones,” he told reporters.
“This will end at any moment, we hope tomorrow, but I speak of the negative streak of not scoring goals, not of creating chances. The [goalless drought] is temporary.
“There’s always calm after a storm.”
A big win on Sunday can return peace of mind to the Colchonero faithful, who are beginning to grow restless with the recent string of lacklustre showings.
It’s certainly welcome news to the fans that Arda Turan, Sílvio, and Eduardo Salvio all returned to the match selection after missing out on Thursday’s Europa League action with their respective injuries.
Juanfran on the other hand, will be unavailable. The winger and emergency right back suffered a hamstring injury on Thursday that will reportedly keep him sidelined for about three weeks.
Manzano left Gabi, Antonio López, Joel and Pulido off the squad through tactical decision.
Newly-appointed Mallorca coach Joaquín Caparrós will be forced to field a depleted line-up, as banged up Islanders Pablo Cáceres, Kevin, Martí, Zuiverloon, Victor and Nunes will not be travelling to Madrid.
Los Bermellones are 12th in the Liga standings with eight points, one less than us.
They salvaged a point last weekend in Palma at the last minute when Tomer Hemed converted a stoppage time penalty to draw level with Valencia.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Sergio Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luis, Sìlvio, Álvaro Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Salvio, Reyes, Arda Turan, Paulo Assunçao, Koke, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Pizzi
Mallorca match selection:
Goalkeepers: Calatayud, Aouate
Defenders: Bigas,Ramis, Cendrós, Crespí, Chico
Midfielders: Joao, Pina, Tejera, Pereira, Alfaro, Castro, Aki, Tissone
Forwards: Nsue, Hemed, Álvaro
Referee: David Fernández Borbalán
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