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)