Match preview: Espanyol vs. Atlético

Atleti will look to put their Copa shame behind them and nab first away win in La Liga

Domínguez available despite seeing red in Albacete  (Getty Images)

Domínguez available despite seeing red in Albacete
(Getty Images)

As is all too often becoming the case, Atlético Madrid head into La Liga action on the back of another appalling performance, this time in midweek Copa del Rey play.

Los Colchoneros will take on Espanyol at the Cornellà-El Prat on Sunday, with kick off set for the unusual time of 21:30 CET.

While it’s true only two regular starters were in the fold for the match at Albacete Thursday evening, one would expect any line-up composed of players of a club of Atleti’s stature to cruise past any Segunda División B side.

But los Rojiblancos’ notorious, bewildering inconsistency came into play against the ‘Clockwork Cheese’ and the clash turned out to be an authentic debacle for Gregorio Manzano’s men; though Adrián was able to help the club save face and pull one back after missing a penalty kick and going down 2-0.

The former Deportivo man’s away goal may prove crucial when Albacete visit the Calderón in about two weeks for the second leg of the fixture—an almost laughable concept.

If Atleti front office personnel weren’t considering dismissing Manzano prior to the game at the Carlos Belmonte, they surely have to be tossing a couple of names around now.

The under fire manager will hope his squad can put together a convincing display of football in Barcelona, as the last couple of matches – even in triumph – have been a series of eyesores for the Rojiblanco faithful.

With 2011 coming to a close, Atlético have yet to record a victory away from home in league play this campaign. Only a mightily struggling and depleted Villarreal have scored less goals (2) than Atleti (3) outside their grounds.

Fortunately, a Champions League spot is still well within reach for Atlético. With more than half a season left to go, only seven points separate us from fourth place-holders Levante.

A good run of positive results would propel Atleti up the standings and help us secure our primary objective of a Champions League berth.

Left back Filipe Luís, who was rested along with most of our starters for our Cup match, can’t wait for the game against los Pericos to get underway.

“We’re eager for the match against Espanyol to arrive in order to win and take off,” he said in a pre-game press conference.

“In Glasgow, we found the path to winning away from home,” he assured.

Speaking to the press on Saturday, Manzano highlighted that “there will be many players that will have fresh legs after having rested the other day in Albacete.”

He continued: “We must give our all, leave everything on the pitch. Tomorrow, we have to leave our skin on the field from the first to the 90th minute.

“Each match away from home should be a personal goal, a matter of profesional pride, not only because of our crest, but also because we have to break the mold of being the worst team away from home.”

A situation that will certainly incite debate is Manzano’s decision to leave José Antonio Reyes off the match selection.

When asked about it, Manzano said: “He’s negotiating with Galatasaray. I need people that are 100 per cent committed to the group.”

The winger, whose transfer this upcoming window now looks all-the-more inevitable, took to Twitter to express his feelings about not being handed a ticket to Barcelona.

“I’d like to be able to help the team in these times, but…” he wrote, leaving fans wondering what he deleted before posting the open-ended tweet.

“…Manzano’s a prick!”? “…I have attitude problems”? “…I lack professionalism and maturity”?

The situation between manager and player is obviously coming to a head, and the likely outcome is that the dilemma will end exactly the same way the previous player-coach feud did: both go out the door.

Pizzi, Pulido, Joel, Tiago and Sílvio were also left off the match selection for this clash.

Arda Turan, Diego Godín and Thibaut Courtois are all back having served their one-game suspensions last weekend.

Arda, according to MadridAtlético’s writer Garreth Nunn, trained normally on Friday and has apparently overcome the muscle injury that forced him to leave our game at Celtic early.

Espanyol haven’t exactly dominated at their stadium this year, and the hosts of the weekend’s ‘anti-Clásico’ come into this encounter riding a five-game winless streak.

Despite their poor run, Mauricio Pochettino’s men – currently in 10th place with 17 points – can surpass Atleti in the standings by taking all three points up for grabs.

Blanquiblaus goalkeeper Cristian Álvarez is unconcerned with his squad’s recent slump.

“There have been situations in recent games where the results have not gone in our favour, but we are staying calm and confident that we are doing things the right way,” he was quoted as saying by ESPN Soccernet.

“I understand the game is important, as was against Valencia and as Tuesday’s Copa del Rey match will be, but the team are playing good football and the results will come.”

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Antonio López, Godín, Filipe, Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario, Salvio, Arda, Assunçao, Gabi, Koke, Juanfran, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao

Referee: José Luis Paradas Romero

Head over to the AtléticoFans Prediction League to give us your prediction for Espanyol – Atlético !

  • SoLobo

    “…I lack professionalism and maturity”… For sure!
    Let ‘s go for the win!!

  • falcao

    its time to win away in la liga

  • Javi Lozoya

    ¡Visca Barça!, Fuck Real Madrid!

  • Fuck them both to be honest, they’re the same shit.

  • Javi Lozoya

    They’re ALMOST the same shit, but Madrid is our eternal rival, so definetely FUCK MADRID FOR ALL ETERNITY.

  • I’d still go for fuck them both for all eternity and along with them Man City, Valencia, Villarreal, Sevilla and so on, Yes I am full of hate.

  • Ringo

    Hey, the game is so much more fun without hatred! I know it’s hard to support Atleti, but lets just focus on that 🙂

    Wonder why Manzano has the balls for this (although he made the same decision with likewise arguments for Forlan in the Europa League in August), but not the guts to give a younger player 5 minutes of playing time.

    Well, hopefully they’ll play a good game and win.

  • Javi Lozoya

    There’s ma’ man Ringo again, hey man what’s up, just for the record I don’t hate Madrid I just dislike them because they’re our main rivals, it’s a “sporting hate or dislike” not violent or racist in any way.

  • Javi Lozoya

    Forget about Platje Ringo, Bas Dost is the man, I’m telling ya’, that guy “Dost” is brilliant.

  • Ringo

    Haha, don’t overrate the Eredivisie. Bas Dost is still yet to prove himself, I guess.
    Remember Mateja Kezman (and Afonso Alves)?

    Can you hate Real Madrid in a racist way? 😛 Well, I have to admit I want to see Atletico do extra well when playing Real Madrid, but that’s mostly because Real is a huge club with a great squad.
    Until about 1.5/2 years ago I sort of hated/disliked Real myself, but I figured that I don’t want to hate a club just because I’m a fan of their city rival or something, I want to make my own decisions, so I figured disliking Real was useless for me.

    I’m pretty good by the way 🙂 how are you?

  • Sinan

    @ Javi Lozoya

    I hope it’s sarcasm mate.

    Are you really serious about this issue ? Bas Dost Brilliant ? What is his achivements in the CL/EL ? Nohting…

    And yes he scored 5x against Excelsior.. But even you and i can score against Excelscior, or against any dutch club…

    Remember Villareal – Twente 5-0… And Villareal is fighting against degradation to Liga Adelante, and Twente is 3th in the Dutch League. So even if Bas Dost scores 50 goals in the Eredivise it doesn’t proves any.

  • Javi Lozoya

    I’m good man thanks, and about the Eredivisie, I think it’s a very competitive league, a high number of talented players come from Holland, both Dutch and foreigners, you gotta give credit to the Eredivisie for creating
    “Total Football” and producing talent players like Cruyff, Van Basten, Rijkaard, Gullit, Koeman, the de Boer brothers, Van Persie, Sneijder, Robben, Van der Vaart, Stekelemburg, Van der Sar, Huntelaar, and the ones to come, Tonny Trindade, Kyle Ebicilio and many other world class players. Dutch Football has been an important part in the story of Football itself, in my opinion, partially because of the Eredivisie.
    I know the Eredivisie has lost some importance because most all their young and talented players are selled before even turn into 25 years old and that obviously weakens the league, but I definetely think the Eredivisie is one of the most importants league in the World.
    About Kezman and Afonso I agree, after leaving Holland they perform below of what was exected from them, hopefully Dost can be the exception and become a world class player because the Oranje needs another class forward as yesteryear, and I hope to see Dost in Brazil 2014.

    I guess your right about disliking Madrid, it’s sort of useless to hate or dislike them, we as Atlet fans should just worry about Atleti but as an Atlet fan it’s always great to see your eternal rival lose, and I think is ok to dislike Madrid, obviously without compromising the integrity of Madrid players and fans, that spices the rivalry, again, as I said, it’s ok to “dislike or hate” Madrid in a sporting way with no violence.

  • Javi Lozoya

    Like you even follow the Eredivisie Sinan, and you say you can score against any Dutch team?, pffuff, what a dumb comment, seriously get out of here dude.
    I found it highly annoying that a person questions a certain comment without having any knowledge in the subject, and make totally absurd replies, I think it’s a total disgrace to say that scoring goals in the Eredivisie it’s useless, that’s a really stupid comment in my opinion given the fact that many world class forwards like Cruyff, Van Basten, Begkamp, Van Persie, Van Nistelrooy, Huntelaar, Luis Suarez, Kluivert and many more have emerged from the Eredivisie.

  • Sergio P.

    So yeah, about Atlético vs. Espanyol…

    I’m surprised Pizzi wasn’t included for this game, considering Reyes was left out. Seems Manzano rates Juanfran higher.

  • atletisrael

    Juanfran is a bit of a mistary for me but I hope it means he finally found his place on the team.

    “Anri-Classico”, I like it, though we call it “el Pettito Classico” and I really hope I’ve spelled it right.
    By the way about hating Real Madrid, there is a clever way Israeli Barca supporters are frequently calling them that translate to something like “horrible poison”. Just makes me giggle every time I see or hear it.

  • falcao

    we need LOIC REMY in our attack

  • AtletienPhila

    It is a thin bench today with few offensive substitutions.

    Salvio–or Adrian, if Salvio starts–is the only player who could add creativity to the pitch coming off the bench.

    I know a lot of us like Koke, but he and Assuncao will not change the offensive flow of the game.

    I guess Juanfran becomes the guy Manzano turns to in case Atleti needs a goal.

  • ratchet

    If we win this our season will start to get back on track

  • RojiBlanco

    It’s an away game, we won’t score or win.

  • falcao

    we must win tonight
    aupa atleti……

  • Germany

    is still se potential in this team, but we cant achieve something with manzano, with a team like this you have to play in the top 4 of the, same crap kike every season.

  • k14

    Both Real and Barca are tyrant cunts, but for me Barca are worst, mainly because of how they treat their foreign faithful players.
    I think Rivaldo was their most faithful player ever, carried that shitty Barca team alone, in other words, if a spanish replacement is available (even if slightly worse) ur out. And thats what they did to every foreign star they get.
    In the end, both of them are scum thiefs monopolist.

  • @k14

  • SoLobo

    Hm… nice start!

  • I can’t say hom much I just hate Espanyol now…

  • SoLobo

    OoooK… Time to go to sleep…

  • Veiko

    nice start. Your a fuckin bag of onions Manzano ! You fuck up Reyes and destroying the team !

  • Matthijs

    Manzano must die! WTF is happening! Fucking Godin!

  • ratchet

    3-0 down by 20 mins. seriously. we are facing a thrashing here, like hercules last year…

  • ratchet

    ohh, 3-1. Comeback maybe? didn’t think so…

  • 7th

    I hope we pull a barcelona on espanyol and go up 3-4.

  • 7th

    Godin and miranda must never pairs. they were the ones who got us a thrashing vs barca.

    any way,

    why , when we play with all red kits, we play horribly?

  • ratchet

    4-1. please, make it stop…

  • Matthijs

    Another year that is gone! It is hard to be an colchonero! We never going to play in the Champions League! I agree with 7th, Godin and Miranda can’t play together!

  • Palestine-atleti

    Simply fuck perea, fuck godin, fuck miranda, fuck mario and the biggest fuck for the fucken manzano… Stop it enough 4-1!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Javi Lozoya

    Pochettino for Atletico Madrid new coach!!!

  • 7th

    man, barcelona-based teams are different than madrid-based teams.

    they look for the future and making their football philosophies. while madrid teams look in the presents.

    manzano, I think you choosed the wrong carrer. please get out.

    what the hell gabi is playing at?

  • Sinan

    @ Javi Lozaya

    Why so aggresive ?

    And yes i do follow the Eredivisie, i’m from the Netherlands. Compared with Spain/Italy/England the Eredivise is nohting. And yes many great player have emerged from The eredivisie that’s correct. But the eredivisie nowdays is just very poor mate.

    Can you name any dutch club that booked succes on a high stage the last 10 years ?

    You call Huntelaar word class ? He failed at Madrid and at Milan.. And you call Kyle Ebecilio talented.. And now im wondering if you follow the Eredivisie.

    But.. I stil respect your opinon about football. To bad you can’t respect mine.

  • Javi Lozoya

    Sinan, I apologize man, I overreacted, but the Eredivisie is indeed a very important league like it or not, and you’re saying pretty much that the Dutch league is a shitty league, and I totally disagree, you can’t say it has no validity because I’ve seen it and the Football that is played in Holland is World Class Football, there are great coaches and great players, and the main problem with the Eredivisie is that their star players end up leaving Holland and therefore the league is weakened, but definetely the Eredivisie is competitive.

  • Croatia Atletista


  • Ringo

    Sinan, I think you have the wrong Ebecilio in mind, hahaha. Not the Ajax one, he means the Ebecilio that plays for Arsenal. That kid really has a lot of talent.

    I do have to say that the Eredivisie is pretty weak though… They raise some terrific players, but once a talented player is 22/23, it’s usually best to move to a big club, because he won’t grow that much in the Netherlands anymore.
    It’s become hard to judge Eredivisieplayers because you can’t say if they’ll reach the same level in the top 5/6 leagues in Europe.
    Remember Heitinga? Okay, he was already overrated, but he still shows being one of the best in Holland doesn’t say so much…
    It’s a great league to start your career, but once you’re one of the better players, you actually have to leave as soon as possible, keeping in mind the playing minutes though. Don’t know if it’s a good example, but look at Royston Drenthe, Real was way too big for the guy.