Having won away for the first time since August in midweek, Atlético will be looking to get their league campaign back on track when Rayo Vallecano visit the Vicente Calderón on Sunday.
So far this season, the red and whites have failed to take a single point from any of their Madrid rivals, and will be looking to put that right against José Ramón Sandoval’s side.
Kick-off is set for the early time of 12:00 CET.
From an Atlético perspective, the main pieces of team news concern the suspensions picked up in the Bernabéu last weekend. Arda Turan and Diego Godín both miss out, as well as goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Coming in for the Belgian will be Sergio Asenjo, who is set to play his first game in the Calderón since January 2010.
The 22 year-old’s last start came in a draw with Sporting in May of the same year, where he suffered the first of two devastating knee injuries that have blighted his young career so far.
Also returning to the starting line-up is star striker Radamel Falcao. The Colombian played 23 minutes as a substitute on Wednesday, and according to MARCA is now ready for a full match.
However, strike partner Adrián is struggling to be fit, due to a bout of gastroenteritis picked up earlier in the week. Despite training on Saturday morning, the former Depor man is more likely to start form the bench.
Jorge Pulido again misses the call, and took to Twitter to express his disappointment. Sílvio remains injured, although compatriot Tiago returns to the squad after a two week absence.
Fans have criticised Gregorio Manzano for his reluctance in playing youth, although the likes of Pulido and Koke should get a chance against Albacete on Thursday. The manager spoke to press this morning.
“Rayo are a good team, it’s nice to have them back in the league,” he said.
“We will go out to win, but they are a team who never give up. Their style is similar to Levante”
Sergio Asenjo also spoke ahead of the clash, and warned his teammates against complacency if they want to take the three points.
“They have nothing to lose but a lot to gain,” said the former Valladolid ‘keeper.
“We have to concentrate if we are to avoid a bad result.”
On a personal level, Asenjo admitted that it will be a special game for him, and one which he hopes can help him regain the number one spot.
“This is an opportunity that I have been waiting a long time for,” he said.
“I have worked hard to wear the Atlético shirt again and it will be a special game for me.”
Missing for Rayo will be midfielder Roberto Trashorras, because of technical decision.
Atleti supporters may remember his impressive performances for Celta in our 2010 Copa del Rey clash, but the former Barcelona and Real Madrid playmaker has fallen out of Sandoval’s favour in recent weeks.
The Rayo head coach also spoke in a press conference this morning, and admitted his respect for the home side.
“Atlético are one of the greats, a team with a lot of history,” said the 43 year-old.
“It’s a pride to be able to compete against these teams, although hope and desire will not win us anything,”
“Our aim is to play football and not be intimidated.”
Dani Pacheco, who was loaned by Atleti from Liverpool this summer, and immediately sent on loan again to Rayo, will most likely start on the bench for the visitors.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Joel, Asenjo
Defenders: Antonio López, Filipe Luís, Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Salvio, Reyes, Assunção, Gabi, Koke, Juanfran, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Pizzi
Rayo match selection:
Goalkeepers: Cobeño, Dani
Defenders: Tito, Casado, Labaka, Arribas, Botelho, Jordi
Midfielders: Rafa García, Movilla, Míchel, Javi Fuego, Michu, Lass
Forwards: Raúl Tamudo, Piti, Koke, Delibašić, Pacheco
Referee: Carlos Clos Gómez
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