On the back of two embarrassing defeats, Atlético are now preparing for their final Europa League group stage match against Stade Rennais.
Many expected there to be a new face in the dugout for Thursday’s encounter, but as it turns out Gregorio Manzano has been given the remaining three games of 2011 to turn the team’s fortunes around.
Kick-off in the Vicente Calderón is set for 21:05 CET.
Los Rojiblancos may have already secured their place in the last 32 of the Europa League, but still need a point to clinch top place in the group.
After overcoming Celtic in matchday five, it looked as if this game against already eliminated Rennes would be a mere formality, but given current form, nothing less than a victory and convincing performance will suffice for Manzano.
The 55-year-old coach is set to make changes from the loss at Espanyol, with MARCA reporting that Álvaro Domínguez, Koke, Adrián and Paulo Assunção will all be drafted into the line-up.
Missing from the squad are Antonio López, Pizzi, Jorge Pulido and Gabi, due to an accumulation of yellow cards.
Knee injury also means that Sílvio is also still unavailable, but Tiago and the much-talked about José Antonio Reyes return.
Atlético were also attempting to recover from a mauling in Catalonia when the teams last met back in September, that time at the hands of FC Barcelona. The game ended 1-1 with Juanfran grabbing a late equaliser for the away side.
Rennes currently sit fifth place in Ligue 1, but have struggled in Europe since then. Drawing at home to Udinese two weeks ago resigned them to an early exit.
Despite this, Manzano stressed in his press conference this morning that it would still be an important game for his side.
“This is a vital part of a European competition,” he said.
“We can enter the draw on Friday as a top seed, and for Atlético Madrid that is fundamental and a priority.
“Our hope it to be group winners.”
Goyo did not take too kindly to questions over his future, and insisted that he was concentrating solely on tomorrow’s match.
“I care only about Rennes, not the Betis or the Albacete games,” he said.
“I want to finish with the goals I have set myself, so my confidence is high.”
Echoing his manager’s sentiment was striker Adrían.
“We have to apologise to our fans because on Sunday we went wrong,” he admitted.
“It’s clear we have a problem in away matches, but at home we are doing well and have a great opportunity to win our [Europa League] group.”
As for our opponents, manager Frédéric Antonetti will use the game as a chance to play some of the fringe players in the squad.
“It’s a chance for those who have not had much playing time or are returning from injury to express themselves,” said the Frenchman.
“This is not a friendly but I am treating it like a warm-up match. It is still important for us.”
Antonetti brought a total of 25 players along for the trip. Manzano on the other hand named the following 18.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Salvio, Reyes, Arda, Assunção, Koke, Juanfran, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao
Rennes match selection
Goalkeepers: Costil, Diallo, N’Diaye
Defenders: Danzé, Foulquier, Mavinga, Apam, Théophile-Catherine, Kana-Biyik, Mangane, John Boye, Jebbour
Midfielders: Brahimi, Tettey, M’Vila, Doumbia, Féret, Mandjeck, Pajot
Forwards: Hadji, Diarra, Kembo, Montaño, Boukari, Pitroipa
Referee: Kristinn Jakobsson (Iceland)