Match preview: Atlético vs. Udinese

Atleti looking for successive wins for the first time since September

Filipe Luís in the match away at Udinese  (

Filipe Luís in the match away at Udinese

After a much needed three points against Zaragoza at the weekend, Atlético now turn their attentions back to the Europa League for another highly important clash with group leaders Udinese.

Los Colchoneros can go top of the group with a win, and will be seeking revenge for their 2-0 defeat in Udine a fortnight ago.

The game is scheduled Thursday at 21:05 CET in the Vicente Calderón.

On Sunday, Atleti managed to put their recent demons behind them and record a win at the seventh time of asking.

However, despite the result there is still a lack of support for manager Gregorio Manzano among the Rojiblanco faithful, although a victory and convincing performance against Udinese could go some way towards helping him restore his diminishing reputation.

For the second game running Manzano has decided to call up every first team player available to him.

The main news from the weekend was the omission of José Antonio Reyes from the matchday squad, and la Perla will have to sit out tomorrow as well due to illness.

Also missing for Atlético is right-back Sílvio, who limped out of the Zaragoza game as a result of his persistent groin injury, and longer term absentee Juanfran.

During his Wednesday press conference, Manzano praised the form of the Italian side.

“Udinese are having a great season,” he said.

“Tomorrow we must be united, players and fans, and we can win the game.”

When asked about the continued absence of Reyes, he again insisted that there wasn’t anything to it.

“There is no issue with Reyes, or with any other player who has not been playing recently.” said the 55-year-old.

“We have a squad of 24 players but only 11 can play. If anybody is under-performing then we have others prepared.”

One player who has been involved more frequently in recent weeks is defender Diego Godín.

The Uruguayan has started the last four games, and on Sunday showed just why the likes of Chelsea and Juventus have shown interest with a commanding performance.

He spoke ahead of the game in a press conference yesterday.

“It will be a difficult game,” he said.

“We hope to put in a good performance for our fans and, of course, to win.”

Our opponents are still going strong in Serie A, and are currently situated just one point behind Juventus in second place. Having already built up a healthy lead in Group I, it looks as if they may use this game to give a rest to key players.

Victory against Siena on Sunday could see the Zebrette top the table, and with that in mind regular starters Antonio di Natale, Giampiero Pinzi and Gabriel Torje have been left in Udine.

Manager Francesco Guidolin spoke about his team’s chances earlier in the week.

“Atlético played very well against us in Italy,” he told journalists.

“They are a strong team and we expect a tough game, but we want to give continuity to our results.”

Atlético can move above the Italians by bettering their 2-0 win from the reverse fixture back in October. For Udinese, three points will see them qualify for the last 32 if Celtic and Rennes draw.

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

Udinese match selection:
Goalkeepers: Handanovič, Padelli, Romo
Defenders: Danilo, Basta, Domizzi, Neuton, Benatia, Ekstrand, Armero, Pereyra
Midfielders: Isla, Badu, Battocchio, Asamoah, Abdi, Doubai
Forwards: Fabbrini, Floro Flores, Dimitrio

Referee: István Vad (Hungary)

  • 92

    This is gonna be a great game to watch, it seems Manzano is gonna line the same 11 as last Sunday, I’m glad Reyes is was not called for this match, hopefully we can sell him in the transfer window, also not happy I’m Manzano hasn’t called anymore forwards to train, again, I think Collado or even N’Doye should have at least make the trip for tomorrow’s match.

  • 92

    Sorry about my bad spelling!, hopefully y’all get my point!, anyways, again, now that Dark October is gone Kick-ass November for Atleti starts tomorrow!, I have no doubt we’re gonna defeat Udinese, so now more than ever Aupa Atlet!!!, let’s show Udinese what does it takes to win the Europa League!.

  • Ringo

    I think Pulido, Tiago and Pizzi should be dropped from this list.
    The starting line-up could be the same as the one versus Zaragoza, except I’d start Salvio in this game, instead of Adrian and perhaps use Koke instead of Mario (or even Gabi), but I don’t think Manzano will do the latter, I think he will start Tiago again, which will mean less movement and creativity in midfield, only two of Tiago, Mario, Gabi, Assuncao and Koke should start, in my opinion.
    Rightback: Lopez could be tried, but I think it’s more safe to use Perea or Miranda this time around.

    So, this is what I’d like to see:
    Courtois; Perea/Miranda, Godin, Dominguez, Filipe; Gabi, Koke, Diego; Arda; Adrian/Salvio, Falcao.

  • Ringo

    Another option would be trying 3-4-3, when Silvio is not available, with Filipe on the left of the midfield and more work for Salvio:

    Courtois; Perea, Godin, Dominguez; Salvio, Gabi, Koke, Diego, Filipe; Adrian, Falcao, Arda.

    This formation is similar to Napoli’s and that seemed to have worked against Udinese pretty recently.

  • atletisrael

    Same gameplan. Adrian MUST play to keep his run and to give falcao some inspiration. Too bad for silvios’ injuries, I like the fact that he is so active down the right wing. Playing with no real wingers will be tough without him.

    Today is actually a very good opportunity to… You know… Free Koke!

  • Ringo Schut

    Oh, I see I put twelve names on my second post, so… one of Diego and Arda should start on the bench in that formation

  • starvs

    Gotta play Adrian after his performance this weekend.


  • DavidSF

    Anbody read about the comments Abel Resino made on Reyes?

    I think he’s spot on. Why didn’t we keep him around?

    some excerpts taken- “When I left Atlético he criticised me. He is not a professional footballer. Atlético Madrid has given everything to somebody who does not deserve it,” he told ABC Punto Radio.

    “A coach’s obligation is to adapt to the characteristics of his squad. Atlético should be dominating every team except for Real Madrid and Barcelona. Manzano needs to stand up and give everybody confidence because this is a Champions League team.

    I mean when he took over from Aguirre, we had a strong squad, but helped Forlan recover his form and he single handedly dragged us into the 4th champions league spot.

    I don’t know if Manzano can handle the pressures of the Calderon to be honest. Difficult situation to be in, he’s improved the defense but we have no offensive flow whatsoever! I hope to be wrong though!

  • SoLobo

    I respect Resino. I would like him back, but not as a head coach… And that one is interesting too…

  • 92

    I notice that it seems nobody likes Pulido, and he as well as Koke should be “freed” since both of them had been in the Atleti and Spain youth teams since 3rd grade, and since Silvio has been getting injured constantly I think Pulido deserves a shot at the right back.

  • Ringo Schut

    I like Pulido, but I don’t see him as a starting player, qualitywise, right now, with Koke, I do.
    Pulido should be loaned out or even sold to not ruin a promising career

  • 92

    Everybody knows Koke is an oustanding player, the only one that seems he isn’t is Manzano, and if you ask me Pulido is oustanding too, it’s just that he hasn’t got enough chances to show what he is capable of, and as I commented earlier, he deserves a shot at the RB.