Atlético make their way back to the North of Spain a week after roaring to a 4-0 victory over Real Sociedad in San Sebastián, their first away win of the season in Primera División play.
Los Colchoneros will be looking to string together back-to-back road triumphs when they take on Osasuna in Pamplona on Monday.
Kick off at the Reyno de Navarra is set for 21:00 CET.
Atlético winger and right-back Juanfran, who spent 2006 through 2010 with los Rojillos, warned ahead of the clash that it will not be an easy one.
“Winning at the Reyno de Navarra is very difficult, but if we do things well and we work as a team I’m sure we are going to get the three points,” the 27-year-old told reporters in a pre-game press conference.
“It would be an important win, because it would move us further up the table, would give us more confidence and mean the fans are going to continue giving 100 per cent for the team.
“They are going to be happy.”
It’s certainly true that the Rojiblanco faithful are at their highest of spirits thanks to their club’s impressive run of form ever since Diego Simeone replaced Gregorio Manzano on the coaching bench.
Well, that isn’t quite accurate. ‘El Cholo’ has spent little if any time at all on the bench while coaching his squad through their current three-match unbeaten streak in which they’ve taken seven out of nine points and have not conceded a single goal.
In stark contrast to his predecessor, throughout the match the Argentine tactician can be seen in motion on the sidelines yelling out instructions and issuing orders to his players.
Simeone will look to wield his wand again and conjure up enough magic to defeat a side that has only lost once at home in the current campaign, and who we were unable to beat at home in our La Liga opener.
The Atleti through-and-through man has not shied away from revealing his line-up plans ahead of our matches.
We can fully expect El Cholo to roll out the squad composed of the regular starters he trained with throughout the week, which included the following 11 players: Courtois, Filipe, Godín, Miranda, Juanfran, Tiago, Mario, Arda, Koke, Adrián and Falcao.
Any variations to that selection, arranged in the same 4-2-3-1 formation deployed at Anoeta, will be a big surprise, with the only changes from a week before being Tiago in for a suspended Gabi, and Koke in replacement of playmaker Diego, also out through a one-match ban.
Cantera enthusiasts will be pleased at Simeone’s decision to call up Atlético B striker Pedro Martín for this encounter.
Reserve squad coach Milinko Pantić, in praise of the youngster he feels is more than ready to step up to the task, told reporters on Sunday: “Pedro has some of the stuff Torres had”.
The 19-year-old was handed his debut appearance on the first team back on the 8th of December in our 2-1 loss to Albacete in the Copa del Rey, but has not featured in any of our match selections since.
Antonio López, through injury, and Sílvio and Joel, through tactical decision, will stay behind in Madrid.
New Year’s blues for los Rojillos
2012 hasn’t been quite as generous for Osasuna as it has been for their Monday night rivals. In five games since the turn of the New Year, José Luís Mendilibar’s men have lost three and drawn two.
Despite the slump, they remain a point ahead of us in the league standings with 27.
Historically a very tough home side, in three straight matches at their stadium in both league and Copa del Rey action, los Rojillos have been unable to come out victorious, losing to Barcelona and Racing Santander before drawing level with Valencia last weekend.
In their fourth consecutive game in Pamplona, Mendilibar assured his squad “will not sit and wait” for their opponents.
“We will try not to let them play,” he said.
“We’ll surely have our chances and we’ll have to score on any of those that we get. We can’t make any mistakes, because they’ll be breathing down our necks to prevent us from having time to create plays.
“They will foul us, they will stop the game, but it’s their way of defending.”
The Basque coach left Ricardo, Raitala and Rubén off his 18-man selection for this game through tactical decision, while Masoud, Echaide, Kike Sola, Roversio and former Atlético Ibrahima Baldé are unavailable through injury.
Atleti midfielder Raúl García, on-loan with his hometown club through the end of the season, will suit-up for Osasuna and face off against his Rojiblanco pals.
The 25-year-old has had a sensational 2011/12 campaign thus far, leading his team in assists with five and even contributing in the goalscoring department with four goals.
Earlier in the week, Raúl told the media: “I will not play thinking about trying to prove something, because I’m aware of [my abilities] and of what I’ve done so far.”
He continued: “It’s a special match because they are my former team-mates and it’s the club I belong to, but I always wish the best for the team I am on.”
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Sergio Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luis, Álvaro Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Salvio, Arda Turan, Paulo Assunçao, Koke, Juanfran
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Pizzi, Pedro Martín
Osasuna match selection:
Goalkeepers: Andrés Fernández, Asier Riesgo
Defenders: Marc Bertrán, Miguel Flaño, Satrústegui, Sergio, Lolo, Damiá
Midfielders: Cejudo, Lamah, Nekounam, Puñal, Raúl García, Timor, Calleja, Annunziata
Forwards: Lekic, Nino
Referee: Pedro Jesús Pérez Montero
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