Atlético end the first half of the season this weekend with a re-arranged trip to the Basque Country, where awaiting us will be an unpredictable Real Sociedad.
Originally scheduled for the opening day back in August, the game will kick-off at 20:00 CET in the Anoeta Stadium on Saturday.
Now two games into Diego Simeone’s reign, los Rojiblancos will be desperate to put an end to their horrendous away form and win for the first time on the road this season. However, despite our recent upturn in form, this will be no easy task.
Just 10 days ago la Real were humiliated 6-1 in the cup at the hands of Mallorca, but responded in the best possible way with a hard-fought victory at Valencia last week.
Phillippe Montanier’s side have not quite reached the levels that many would have expected, but are enjoying an improved spell in La Liga in which they have lost just once since November.
Last season, a much different Atlético took all three points in San Sebastián courtesy of a late Kun Agüero-inspired surge, but as press have been keen to point out this week, it was our only win at the home of the Erreala in the last 20 years.
The home side have been anything from prolific in front of their fans this season however, with just seven goals in their favour.
Simeone has brought 18 players along for the trip, including defenders Luis Perea and Álvaro Domínguez who return from suspension. Sílvio remains sidelined due to a knee injury, and compatriot Tiago will also miss out after picking up a fifth yellow card in last week’s win over Villarreal.
Antonio López, Joel and Jorge Pulido will stay in Madrid, but Mario Suárez, yet to feature in 2012, earns a recall to the squad.
Cholo was not available to speak to the media this morning, but did have a few words ahead of the game in Tuesday’s press conference.
“Real Sociedad did not attack much at Valencia but were still very solid. Defensively they are strong,” he pinpointed.
“I see them as a team that work well, tactically very prepared. Their good form of late have been no fluke.”
Speaking today was left-back Filipe Luís, who re-iterated the importance of getting that elusive first away win.
“It’s a key game for us, as we need to put our away record right,” said the Brazilian.
“Our job is to improve away from the Calderón, and we go to la Real thinking only of the victory.”
On the opposite flank to Filipe last week was Juanfran, and AS today reports that the 27 year-old will keep his place in the team, although this time in a more forward position. Striker Adrián is also set to line-up after his impressive showing on Sunday, which means Arda Turan may drop back to the bench.
Montanier has named 19 players for the match, with the main news being the return of striker Joséba Llorente. Speaking this week was talisman Xabi Prieto, who warned the red and whites that they will not have it all their own way in the Basque country.
“It will be a tough game, as Atlético have improved a lot since the change of manager.” he said.
“They played well against Villarreal, but will have to work even harder if they want to take something from the Anoeta.”
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Salvio, Arda, Assunção, Gabi, Koke, Juanfran, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Pizzi
Real Sociedad match selection:
Goalkeepers: Bravo, Zubikarai
Defenders: Carlos Martínez, Estrada, Demidov, Mikel González, Cadamuro, Iñigo Martínez
Midfielders: Xabi Prieto, Markel, Elustondo, Zurutuza, Aranburu, Mariga, Griezmann
Forwards: Vela, Agirretxe, Ifrán, Llorente
Referee: César Muñiz Fernández
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