Match preview: Atlético vs. Espanyol

A battle of European implications on El Día del Niño at the Vicente Calderón

ATLETICO FORWARD EDUARDO SALVIO CHASES ESPANYOL'S THIEVY

Salvio chases after Espanyol's Thievy (ligabbva.com)

On Sunday, Atlético host Espanyol at the Vicente Calderón, whose blades of grass are still warm from los Rojiblancos having run riot over Valencia in Thursday night’s Europa League semi-final clash.

This weekend’s game will be another European battle of sorts as both sides, equal at 45 points apiece, are vying for a final push to secure UEFA tournament play for next season by finishing within the top six spots of the league table.

Proceedings on El Día del Niño, or Kid’s Day at the Colchonero stadium, get underway at 18:00 CET.

Los Colchoneros come back from their Europa League adventures, or their very own Narnia – a place they stumbled upon where they are renowned as almighty conquering kings, feared and revered across the land – to the gloomy reality of their domestic life in Spain as relative nobodies that trail seven other teams.

Diego Simeone has some delicate decision-making on his hands ahead of this encounter. Does he rest key players in consideration of our semi-final second leg trip to Valencia, or does he take a shot at a Champions League berth by rolling out our most potent starting line-up?

In Saturday’s press conference, ‘El Cholo’ gave an inkling that he would opt for the latter.

“Since I arrived, all the matches have been important,” he said.

“I don’t remember a single one that wasn’t.”

The 41-year-old former Atlético player then proceeded to challenge his deadliest weapon, Colombian striker Radamel Falcao, whose shot-heard-’round-the-world goal against Valencia added 32 strikes to his name in the current campaign.

Despite the fact that ‘El Tigre’ has scored fully half of our 44 league goals this season, his coach, most likely in an attempt to motivate his chief predator, demanded more.

“Falcao is in a rich vein of form right now, but still, more can be demanded from him because he can give us more and be in even better form,” Simeone said.

As usual, El Cholo called for fans to attend in droves and get behind their players.

“The Calderón vibrated on Thursday and hopefully against Espanyol we’ll once again see the stadium packed,” he said.

The Argentine tactician will most likely get his wish as the popular bring-your-children-to-the-park festivities tend to draw a big crowd.

Sílvio and Antonio López will be two of those spectactors, as they continue their long recovery processes from their respective injuries.

It is even being whispered that ‘El Capi’ López has already seen his last action in red and white.

Also left off the squad were Fran Mérida, Paulo Assunçao and Pizzi.

Back in December, Espanyol played us off the pitch of their Estadi Cornellà-El Prat, a completely catastrophic visit that saw us going down 3-0 before 20 minutes had even elapsed.

Much like us, the Catalan outfit’s inconsistency and poor road form has led to their current 10th place Primera División position.

But also like us, los Periquitos are coming off a four-goal performance against los Che, though they are winless in seven straight trips.

Mauricio Pochettino will be without on-loan winger Vladimir Weiss and midfielder Juan Albín, both injured.

But budding starlet Philippe Coutinho, borrowed for the second half of the season from Inter Milan, as well as Juan Forlín, return for Espanyol from suspension.

“To win the three points will allow us to keep the dream alive of qualifying for a European competition,” said Pochettino in the pre-game press conference, before adding some words of caution for his men.

“[Atlético] have decisive players,” he said.

“You can’t allow them a single millimeter. They generate a lot of football.”

He continued: “They have footballers with a great deal of skill, with individual or collective play. They also perform well in set piece situations and we must remain attentive.”

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Perea, Godín, Domínguez, Miranda, Filipe Luís, Juanfran
Midfielders: Arda, Diego, Mario, Gabi, Koke, Salvio, Tiago
Forwards: Falcao, Adrián, Pedro Martín

Espanyol match selection:
Goalkeepers: Kiko Casilla, Cristian Álvarez
Defenders: Raúl Rodríguez, Amat, Moreno, Forlín, Didac
Midfielders: Baena, Verdú, Romaric, Javi López, Coutinho, Cristian Gómez, Víctor Sánchez
Forwards: Rui Fonte, Sergio García, Uche, Pandiani, Álvaro

Referee: Carlos Clos Gómez

Head on over to the AtléticoFans Prediction League to give us your prediction for Atlético vs. Espanyol.


  • ratchet

    just watched el clasico. real won. Im not sure how i feel about this. I actually think im glad barca have lost the league, it knocks them off their perch, and in some way avenges the night we were robbed against them. Plus, i get to laugh at my barca-supporting friend. I know its real madrid, but i hate both clubs, so, i think its time to see the barca fans cry, knowing that their glory hunting wont get them la liga this year.

  • Javi Lozoya

    I’m sort of happy too but not too happy (I prefer Atleti qualifies to Champions League) because Barca lost the league and finally it’s over. But honestly I don’t think neither one deserves to win the league or a title for being both equally cheaters and Madrid being an aggressive team. Both clubs are presumptuous and think they’re on the top of the world. I think not. They just have and spend money than all other clubs in players. Imagine if Atleti had Barca or Madrid budgets and was runed by Sandro Rosell or Florentino Perez. Things would be very different, but unfortunately things don’t work that way.

  • Javi Lozoya

    This is gonna be a great match. We could finally see Pedro Martin debut in La Liga. He is one to watch for the future. Hope he plays and that Cholo gives Falcao a rest. El Tigre needs to rest to face Valencia next week. Anyways.
    It’ll be great to face Espanyol. I’m looking forward to see how their players perform against us, like obviously Alvaro Vasquez, my fellow countryman Hector Moreno (he is doing a great season with Los Periquitos), Coutinho (we should sign him, he is doing awesome, he is young talented. too bad Inter didn’t gave him too many chances), Jordi Amat, (he is quite good too and is a teammate of Jorge Pulido with the Spanish youth teams), Verdu (we should him if Diego leaves. He is obviously as not as talented as the Brazilian but he is a hard worker, and would be cheaper), Christian Gomez( he is showing quite good things and a good progress), Didac is quite a good player too.
    I wonder what happened to Thievy Bifouma. He is also quite a good player, very young and promising. I suppose he is injured.
    I think we’re going to win and keep fighting for European qualification.
    Aupa Atleti!.

  • Come on Atletico. Champions league football is what we aiming for. Let’s kick the @$$e$!!

    Aupa Atleti!!

  • shlomgar

    Javi Lozoya, I’m not with you about the money and management issue. We are underdogs. I’m proud to say we are, and we don’t need the funds of Real or the oil money of Barca.
    Look at FC Barcelona for example, though very affective, the change Pep has given the team slowly took the spice out of their game. I remember on his first season the players were still passionate, their lineup had flaws but as a team it came together.

    None of them top la Liga duo has it anymore. The players might as well keep their fancy clothes on for the game as well cause it looks just like a day in the office for them, and not in a good way.

    Wow! Now that’s out of my chest I’m ready for a double treat tonight. I have Real castilla vs Atleti’s on tape from a poor, Real/Chelsea supporting channel in Israel, and then el Petite Classico on 18:00. Key player tonight must be Arda. His attacking power and spirit will be the push if we want European glory this year and after. I’m openly apologize for every time I criticized him. He can be a valuable player, let’s hope he keeps his recent form.

    Aupa Atleti! Sorry for the overload guys…

  • Le sigh

    Atletico would still finish well short of Barca and Real if they spent the same amount of money. Look at how much more Atletico spends than the teams around and above them in the places 3-10. Stop kidding yoursef Javi. Atleti is run terribly and has been for some time, that’s the reason for its current plight. It is a damn shame. The club deserves better than the shitshow the owners have made it

  • Javi Lozoya

    Sure we need money and a better management to keep up with Barca or Madrid. No offense but saying Atleti doesn’t need funds it’s foolish. You obviously need money to buy world class players or great players to be a world class team or at least a great team. Hence why Atleti pay so much for Falcao.
    Plus we have a mediocre board who only cares about money. Good thing Cholo has kept the team afloat. But you can’t deny Atleti is always in chaos. Bad management, bad decisions, anything you can think of.
    And you can’t possible compare Atleti to Barca or use Barca as an example. They are managed better than Atleti since the last two decades and they have had better squads than us. World class squads. Us?, not even close.
    The only team that was close to world class was the one that won the Doblete in 96 and after that Atleti has not had a team capable to compete against Barca or Madrid or win La Liga. Atleti is way too far from the team it used to be before the Gil family arrived. And I’m not making that up that’s the actual truth.

  • Javi Lozoya

    @Le sigh, we already know how Atleti is run. At least I do. And I’m not kidding about Atleti. Barca and Madrid are two of the richest clubs in the world. I’m pretty sure if Atleti had their budget the club would compete against Barca or Madrid for any trophy. And just because Atleti payed 45M for Falcao doesn’t mean it spend that most of the teams. Malaga spent a lot of money too. But Madrid and Barca spend most than all 18 Spanish teams. That’s a fact too.

  • shlomgar

    Man if I was looking at the facts then yeah, I would probably cheer for Barca. And next year I’ll probably change it cause Real is looking pretty good. We are all masochist for following this heartache of a club, but like a true rubber freaks, we enjoy every minute of it.

  • ratchet

    Turan has turned this game on its head!!

  • Epoy

    GOALLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!

    What a double by Turan in such short time!!!

  • AtletiFanInPhilly

    Que grande es Turan!!!

    We’ll all rooting for Osasuna today, right? If they win, Malaga stays only three points ahead of Atleti for fourth place.

  • shlomgar

    Arda Arda Arda Arda Arda Arrrrrrrrrdaaaaaaaa…
    Welcome to la Liga Turan!

  • Javi

    Arda just ripped a whoke in the net!!!!
    Another one!!!!

  • Javi

    Turks on fire

  • Javi

    Gotta say since cholo came on board our attacks thru the wings via Felipe juanfran and Salvio is 199% better
    We open up defenses thus way
    Very happy about this imorivement