Match preview: Atlético vs. Real Zaragoza

Festive atmosphere could be just what the doctor ordered for Manzano and his men

Will Manzano bench Reyes on Sunday? (EFE)

Will Manzano bench Reyes on Sunday? (EFE)

On the Día de las Peñas, an annual event celebrating Atlético’s close to 700 fan clubs spread throughout Spain and the world, los Rojiblancos take on Real Zaragoza at the Vicente Calderón.

The clash gets underway at 20:00 CET on Sunday.

While the match is being billed by the media as manager Gregorio Manzano’s “last chance” following a poor run of form, Garreth Nunn of our good friends Madrid Atléticos reported that an official at the club assured there have been no discussions within the front office regarding a possible sacking.

This, in spite of an abysmal run of seven games and a dismal record in the domestic competition.

In nine league matches, Atleti have only won twice and haven’t scored a single goal outside of their home grounds.

Los Rojiblancos were pounded 3-0 by Athletic Bilbao in mid-week Liga action after being unable to see off visitors Mallorca in Madrid last weekend.

Atlético vice-captain Gabi, who faces off against his former team of four years this weekend, holds himself and his team-mates accountable for the rough patch.

“We feel awful in the locker room,” he said in the pre-game press conference on Saturday.

“I think this slump has taken the team to a place we didn’t want to come to. No one is happy with this situation and the only ones responsible and the only ones who can turn this around is us.”

He continued: “This is a very important week for us and for the club that can define our future, of latching ourselves to the top or to the bottom.

“It’s a vital week for us and we have the opportunity to completely turn this situation around.”

Manzano selected all 24 first team players for this critical game, including Juanfran, who is still nursing a hamstring injury and training apart from the group.

The rest of the squad fully participated in Saturday morning’s practice session.

Zaragoza boss and former Atlético manager Javier Aguirre, whose squad come into this encounter on the back of consecutive losses, is confident his men can snatch points from this fixture.

“We will try to end the week, which has been a poor one with regard to our results, on a positive note for us,” he said.

“Hopefully we can win our first game away from home at the Calderón.”

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo, Joel
Defenders: Perea, Godín, Filipe Luís, Antonio López, Miranda, Pulido, Sílvio, Domínguez
Midfielders: Juanfran, Assuncao, Salvio, Reyes, Arda, Tiago, Diego, Koke, Mario, Gabi
Forwards: Adrián, Pizzi, Falcao

Zaragoza match selection:
Goalkeepers: Leo Franco, Roberto
Defenders: Efraín Juárez, Paredes, Mateos, Lanzaro, Fernando Meira, Da Silva
Midfielders: Edu Oriol, Juan Carlos, Pablo Barrera, Lafita, Ruben Micael, Zuculini, Leo Ponzio
Forwards: Hélder Postiga, Luis García, Jorge Ortí

Referee: Javier Estrada Fernández

Don’t forget to submit your score over at our Prediction League section!


  • Ringo

    Well… what to expect…
    I’m not very hopeful and by selecting 24 players, Manzano doesn’t show he’s very certain about what to do.

    There is a great squad available. You’ve started the 4-3-3 system, now add some guts and an idea behind the play might come in handy as well.

  • palc

    We will bounce back. Zaragozas defence is very very poor.

  • 92

    Well although I always hope Atleti wins, if we win tomorrow that means Manzano is gonna stay for one more week and I thinks is better for both Atleti and Manzano to part ways because I haven’t seen a change for good in the last matches. Also I suppose tomorrow is the last of chance of Manzano to turn things around and keep his job as Atleti’s coach. In case Manzano wins, should Atleti give him more time to consolidate the “project”? or if he loses should Atleti just sack him instantly?, we have sort of a dilemma here but I suppose we’ll find out tomorrow, anyways very interesting match, we have the return of Aguirre the basque, Gabi is gonna face his former team, etc.., while Zaragoza has had mixed results, and Atleti terrible ones, if there’s one team that Atleti tends to always defeat, that is Zaragoza so with that said I think Atleti is gonna tomorrow so unfortunately Manzano is gonna stay for another week.
    Aupa Atleti!!!.

  • 92

    Mmh…, I noticed Zaragoza called in a player named Jorge Ortí, he is listed as a forward, mmh… So he must be a canterano!, hope he gets a chance to play, I’m so curious about that guy, Jorge Ortí.
    That’s another thing I’m always talking about, the cantera.
    Zaragoza doesn’t actually need Jorge Ortí right now since they have Postiga and Luis Garcia and they only play with one center forward, but they are calling up the kid to train, spend time with the first team and to be selected for a first division match, so I’m wondering, when it’s Atleti gonna at least give more young players like Collado, Kader, Fer or anybody else, you name it, chances to at LEAST train with the first team?, I said it before and I’ll said it again; I prefer a player from the cantera who know what it feels like to be a true Colchonero, trying to establish himself with Atleti’s first team than to keep spending on foreign players who aren’t making a single effort to help with Atleti’s cause.

  • starvs

    92, in that vein. FREE KOKE.

  • ratchet

    0-0 draw

  • DJ_ZA

    Today I am not thinking about the starting line-up, formation or whether Manzano is staying or going. Today I just want to sit back with ice cold sangria (we’ve been having a week-long heatwave) and enjoy a fantastic game of football….and hopefully when the fulltime whistle blows I’ll be celebrating like in the Día de las Peñas video (love it)…. then tomorrow I’ll get back to caring / worrying about when Koke’s gonna get more game time, or whether Diego or Courtois will be around next season, who we’ll try to sign in January, who’ll be the next coach or whether Diego Costa will remember to recover (anyone have his mobile number so we can text him a reminder… oh wait a minute … he’s forgotten his mobile … lol). Anyway, enjoy the game everyone. AUPA ATLETI!!!
    PS. Has daylight saving changed to winter in Spain? don’t want to miss kickoff

  • TitroN

    DJ_ZA, Yes! We have changed the time. In case you are no sure in the future, here is a great website to check the time around the World: http://www.timeanddate.com
    take care
    Manzano get the hell out!!!

  • palc

    Cant believe people already want Manzano out. Itsnot his fault we havent been able to convert our chances into goal. Give him half a season. Atleast.

  • AtletienPhila

    Atletico has failed to score in seven matches this year. The team has not won in seven games, and has lost three times in these seven games.

    It is a talented team that spent a lot of money this offseason to acquire good players.

    At some point, something must change, and the only piece of the puzzle that can change is the coach.

    I completely prefer consistency, but it is madness to stick with a system that is clearly not working.

  • starvs

    At first it was that we were failing to convert chances, now we are failing to have chances to convert. That is regression not progress.

    FREE KOKE.

  • 92

    @palc, I agree that perhaps Manzano deserves continuity and although I agree that the bad results are not entirely his fault, he has shared responsibilty for the bad results, also as I said earlier I haven’t seen a change for improvement in the last matches, also Manzano has failed to take care of the dressing room and with Reyes incident it’s best for Manzano to leave Atleti instead of making a much worse problem in the dressing room.

  • Urban

    Reyes is on the stands