Match preview: Racing vs. Atlético

Champions League dream still firmly on the horizon for Simeone's Atlético

Domínguez returns to the side(

Domínguez returns to the side

Atlético spurned the chance to move into the top four last week following a stalemate against Valencia, but Diego Simeone and his team can put that right on Saturday with victory at Racing Santander.

Kick-off in El Sardinero is set for the evening time of 18:00 CET.

The stage was set last week for the rojiblancos to leapfrog Levante in fourth place, but in typical fashion, we couldn’t take advantage.

However, tomorrow we are faced with a similar situation. The final Champions League spot is well and truly up for grabs, and, depending on other results, it can temporarily be ours should we come away from Cantabria with the points.

Our last meeting with Racing was a memorable one, although both clubs have experienced dramatic change since the September fixture. Birthday boy Radamel Falcao hit a hat-trick on that occasion as Atleti ran out 4-0 winners.

Although still 18th in the table, the verdiblancos have seen a major improvement in form since the managerial trio of Juanjo González, Fede Castaños and Pablo Pinillos took over in November, already taking points from Real Madrid, Villarreal, Sevilla, Athletic and Valencia this season.

The task is not made any easier for Atlético by the news that current first choice centre-backs Diego Godín and Miranda will both be unavailable. The latter accumulated his fifth booking of the season in an otherwise impressive performance against los Che, whereas Godín hobbled out of the same game after a clash with Diego Alves.

Because of this, Cholo has made the decision to bring B-team captain Paco Regalón into his squad. The 24 year-old has been an ever-present in Milinko Pantić’s defence this season, and could finally make a first team appearance after more than six years in the reserves.

Coming back into contention is right-back Sílvio. The Portuguese international had been sidelined for 10 weeks with a knee injury, but is now ready to feature for the first time under the new regime. Juanfran has stepped in admirably during his absence, so it will be interesting to see who gets the nod.

Antonio López is still missing due to a calf problem, and technical decision means that Paulo Assunção will also not be making the trip.

Simeone spoke to the press after yesterday’s training session, and insisted that the team would do everything to get back to winning ways following last week’s minor blip.

“The most important game for us now is against Racing and we must play as if it were our last,” he said.

“They are a good side, with quick players like Munitis up front, as well as the likes of Lautaro Acosta who work the ball very well.”

Regarding the defensive situation, Cholo stressed that his squad are sufficiently covered.

“We are working very hard with Luis [Perea] and Álvaro [Domínguez], players who know that position very well.” said the former Colchonero idol.

“The squad is well protected.”

As of this moment, Atlético have played nearly 9 hours of football without conceding a goal, a run that dates back to December 22 when a first minute strike from Albacete’s Victor Curto resigned Gregorio Manzano to the sack.

Racing have not been prolific at home this season, but will surely provide a stern test for our makeshift backline.

One player who will be hoping to end our defensive revival is forward Lautaro Acosta, who was interviewed earlier in the week.

“We are in a good moment and feel we can beat anybody,” he said.

“At home we have to be strong and put in a good performance. There are many teams within two or three points of us, so we must give everything have.”

Acosta may not be ready for the match because of a hamstring sprain, but he has been included in the Racinguistas 19-man squad.

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Filipe, Sílvio, Domínguez, Perea, Regalón
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Salvio, Arda, Gabi, Koke, Juanfran, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Pizzi

Racing match selection:
Goalkeepers: Mario, Toño
Defenders: Christian, Cisma, Álvaro, Francis, Bernardo, Torrejón
Midfielders: Diop, Arana, Edu Bedia, Marcos Gullón, Adrián, Jairo
Forwards: Acosta, Munitis, Babacar, Luque, Stuani

Referee: Javier Estrada Fernández

Head over to the AtléticoFans Prediction League to give us your prediction for Racing vs. Atlético!

  • falcao

    victory means we are going on the position 4…

  • AtletiFanInPhilly

    This game will really test our defense with Godin and Miranda out. We’ll need the offense to score a quick goal (or two) to give the defense a bit of a cushion.

  • Mais

    i agree..offense needs to step it up this week

  • ali_

    i hope falcao & simeone both know that radamel HAVE to get a yellow card. so falcao will have to rest against gijon, and he can play against barca.

  • I don’t know what to thing about our opponents…we did beat them 4-0 and we’d want to repeat it and trash them again! Aupa Atléti!

  • shlomgar

    Since Simeone had arrived Falcao is much more aggressive and will probably get the card. But is there a concern that he will be banned for more than one game? I don’t have any knowledge about suspension laws but I know sometimes the league decides to extend suspension periods.
    Is it still safe to get those late bookings?

  • Shlomgar,

    For yellow card suspensions are not commonly extended. It usually happens for red cards when it should be given some Black card if it existed. If he gets a simple yellow they won’t probably mind.

    The issue here is that RMadrid has done this on the last Champions League agains Ajax and the UEFA suspended the players for more than one match because it was a clear intention to avoid an easy next match. I just don’t think AFP pays this attention to us like UEFA does to Mourinho. 🙂

  • ratchet

    atletico seem to have gone downhill yet again…

  • ratchet

    if this natch ends as a draw we can forget about CLquealification. if we cant beat santander then we are going to face a huge struggle to get any european football

  • ratchet

    PIZZI? WTF IS PIZZI GOING TO DO. ITS LIKE WE DONT WANT CL QUALIFIFICATION. THIS HAS BEEN ANOTHER SHIT SEASON. Im sad bit it lools like simeone isnt the right guy for us. definately not goin to get CL now. oh well. i can always trust atletico to fuck it all up. we wont score in these last 15 mins, we will draw again with gijon and then get battered 4-0 by barca.

  • Matthijs

    Come on boys, don’t be dissapointed! We played so well, created so many chances, when was the last time Atletico dominated in an away game? And dominated like this, they were twice on our half in the whole game.

    Whe are a team which is in a building phase. Adrian and Falcao where very unlucky, but again the competitor didn’t create a chance against us.

  • Edletico

    We are playing well, defence and midfield are the best we have seen in years. Once the attack click we will get CL. Cholo has his priorities right, build from the back

  • falcao

    this is incredibly…..fucking TONO has 10 or more superb saves we were very powerfull but unlucky like something don’t want we go to CL… I CAN’T BELIEVE
    Falcao two chances from line Adrian also…..
    Also Diego shows some brilliant skill…

  • falcao
  • falcao

    then pres STATISTIKA and you will see everything

  • Mark

    Wow. What a drama queen.

    I thought we played very well today, created heaps of chances and hit the post a couple of times. With a bit more luck, we would of won 5-0 today.

    If the results go against us this weekend, then we will only be 4 points off a CL finish with 16 games to go.