Atlético play their last game of the year on Wednesday evening, with Albacete visiting the Vicente Calderón in an important Copa del Rey clash.
Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, it is imperative that los Colchoneros overturn the deficit and qualify for the last 16 in what is likely to be Gregorio Manzano’s final match in charge.
Kick-off in Madrid is 20:00 CET.
Following a perilous run of form, including that humiliating defeat in Castile-La Mancha a fortnight ago, Manzano was given until the end of the year to preserve his role as manager of Atlético.
However, yet another drubbing at the hands of strugglers Betis on Sunday looks to have been the final straw for the Jaén-born tactician
Rumours today speculated that club icon Diego Simeone would resume the post in the new year, with El Mundo even claiming that he and potential assistant Mono Burgos were on their way to the Spanish capital.
The 40 year-old handed in his resignation at Argentine side Racing de Avellaneda this morning.
Regardless of any new appointment, Manzano has one last task to fulfil before stepping aside, and that is to prevent further embarrassment by reaching the next stage of the cup.
Despite tournament rules permitting only 16 players in the matchday squad, Goyo has decided to call up all available players for the game.
Sílvio will definitely miss out through injury, whereas goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has been given a leave of absence from the club for personal reasons.
Additionally, dismissal in the first leg means that Álvaro Domínguez has to watch from the stands.
Illness prevented Arda Turan from training today, but he could still have a part to play. Radamel Falcao and Diego are also in line to make their Copa debuts.
When quizzed on his future, Manzano seemed bizarrely upbeat. The 55 year-old even went as far as declaring that he hoped to see out the season on the banks of the River Manzanares.
“I feel stronger than ever,” he stated.
“I believe in my work and seek to find a solution to our problems instead of a culprit.”
“My contract runs until June 30th and I aim to see it out.”
Club captain Antonio López has also spoken out this week, and admitted that the game would be treated like a ‘final’ by himself and his teammates.
“We must reverse this situation.” he said.
“On Wednesday we have a final and we must be more united than ever,”
“Above all, we need our fans to support us as they have always done.”
Alba come into the match on the back of a 3-1 win at La Roda on Sunday, and, with the best away record in Group I of the Segunda B, will be doing all they can to finish the job in the Calderón.
Manager Antonio Gómez maintained that his team go into the game as underdogs, and admitted that the prospect is an exciting one for everybody involved at the club.
“Our intention is to enjoy the match,” he insisted.
“It will be a tough game because at home they have done well, but with the attitude shown in the first leg way we can make a stand.”
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Joel, Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Antonio López, Filipe, Perea, Miranda, Pulido
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Salvio, Reyes, Arda, Assunção, Gabi, Koke, Juanfran, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Pizzi
Referee: Alfonso Álvarez Izquierdo
Would you play our reserves like we did in the first leg, or should Manzano bring out all the big guns?