On the back of a third successive league draw at Sporting last weekend, Atlético turn their attentions back to the Europa League for another meeting with Lazio.
The Rojiblancos won in spectacular fashion last week in the Stadio Olimpico, but still have to make sure the job is completed on Thursday night.
Kick-off in the Calderón is set for 21:05 CET.
Six days ago, goals from Adrián and Falcao inspired Atleti to a 3-1 comeback victory in Rome, giving us a healthy advantage to take back to Madrid for the return leg.
The result, coupled with a 5-1 mauling at Palermo on Sunday, led to Lazio boss Edy Reja offering his resignation earlier today, although reports have since emerged that his request has not been granted by the club’s hierarchy.
It is unclear who will take charge tomorrow, in a game where players’ motivation levels will surely be under examination. Further developments are expected in the coming hours.
Before the news of Reja’s attempted escape, Atlético boss Diego Simeone took a press conference in Madrid, and stressed that the tie was not yet decided.
“In principle, our aim is to go out and finish the tie in the best manner,” he said.
“I played in Italy for 8 years and know that Lazio will make things difficult, they will give us no peace.”
In the aftermath of the Sporting match, the team were dealt a huge blow by the news that chief playmaker Diego Ribas was set to miss the next four weeks with a thigh injury, but Cholo insisted that his side could still get by without the Brazilian.
“Obviously, Diego is an outstanding player, but it will benefit Atlético to bring him back fresh for the final league games, when others are tired.”
Simeone decided not to disclose his matchday squad just yet, waiting until tomorrow afternoon to make the announcement.
One player aiming to make it back in time is Arda Turan. The Turk has suffered from a series of fitness problems lately, but pictures of him out and about in Madrid early Sunday morning suggest that he should be ready.
Tiago will be available after returning to full training, although captain Antonio López is still sidelined.
Also, some of our reserve players revealed on Twitter today that young midfielder Sergio Cidoncha has been called-up, perhaps an option to replace the suspended Mario Suárez or cup-tied Fran Mérida.
In addition to a managerial crisis, Lazio have had injury problems of their own; most notably to their first leg goalscorer Miroslav Klose. The German international will not make the trip because of a back problem.
Their travelling squad – chosen by Edy Reja – is also short of Radu, Brocchi, Biava, Stankevičius and Rocchi, so five youngsters have been called-up in their places.
Despite a wave of problems currently flowing through their ranks, midfielder Matuzalém is still confident that his team can cause an upset.
“I’m convinced that we can overturn the tie,” he said. “It will not be easy because they have shown what they can do.”
The midfielder had complimentary words for the Colchoneros, a team he was once linked with joining whilst in Spain with Zaragoza.
“There’s no doubt Atlético are a great side but we will go all out determined to get the result we need.”
Simeone will be taking charge of his 9th game since taking over, but only the third at home. Still yet to taste defeat, the next visitors will arrive three days later in the form of European champions Barcelona.
If Atlético can do as expected and see out the tie, they will face either Beşiktaş or Braga in the following round. The Turks won 2-0 away in the first leg last week.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Sílvio, Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Tiago, Salvio, Arda, Assunção, Gabi, Koke, Juanfran, Cidoncha
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Pizzi
Lazio match selection:
Goalkeepers: Berardi, Bizzarri, Marchetti
Defenders: Biava, Diakitè, Dias, Konko, Zauri, Barluzzu, Fagioli, Serpieri
Midfielders: Candreva, Gonzalez, Hernanes, Ledesma, Lulic, Matuzalem, Mauri, Zampa
Forwards: Kozak, Rozzi
Referee: Martin Atkinson (England)