Match preview: Atlético vs. Real Sociedad

Europa League finalists return to the Calderón in crucial midweek clash

Atleti players celebrate goal in the Anoeta

Three points needed to keep top four hopes alive

Radamel Falcao’s last gasp equaliser at Betis on Sunday just about ensured Atlético still have an outside chance of making the top four, but victory is a must in the re-arranged week 20 fixture against Real Sociedad on Wednesday evening.

Kick-off in the Vicente Calderón is set for an early Madrid Bank Holiday time of 18:00 CET.

With Málaga travelling to the Camp Nou after our game, we can go into Saturday’s crunch clash just three points behind in the knowledge that a win will take us above them on virtue of the head-to-head ruling.

However, there is no more margin for error for Diego Simeone’s team, who will also have to hope that La Liga’s surprise package Levante take no more than five points from their remaining fixtures.

La Real journey to the Spanish capital having secured safety at the weekend, although under-fire manager Philippe Montanier will be looking for three points to help stake his claim for another year at the Anoeta.

The Rojiblancos could face some selection problems, and as the Europa League final looms ever closer, risks are unlikely to be taken with key players.

Simeone suggested in his press conference that neither Luis Perea or Juanfran will be fit to start at right-back, and that we could see a debut of a three-man defence in their absence; potentially a risk against the direct wing play of Xabi Prieto and Griezmann, and the constant threat of Carlos Vela.

After only managing an hour in Seville, playmaker Diego may also not be fit to play a full match, so Koke is likely to come into midfield after his goal in the 2-2 draw.

The youngster could alternatively replace Tiago, who is serving a one match suspension after accumulating 10 yellow cards.

Speaking to journalists this afternoon, Cholo said: “I hope to see a packed house tomorrow, the players deserve it. We need the fans’ positive energy.”

On the subject of the Champions League, he maintained that we would not give up hope of qualifying.

“Until the referee blows the whistle in the last game at Villarreal, we will continue fighting.”

Our opponents have had an indifferent season on their second year back in the top flight, but managed to turn their form around after a poor start. Still, they have struggled to find consistency, although they are now unbeaten in their last six.

Former Valenciennes boss Philippe Montanier took over from Martín Lasarte in the summer, and looks set to beat the total of 45 points achieved by his predecessor. The Frenchman had good words for Atleti in his press conference Tuesday, but insisted that his team are going for the win.

“A team that will play in the final of the Europa League is a team of a high level,” he said. “They have done well in the second half of the season, with good players like Falcao, Diego and Adrián.”

“We will do everything to get a good result away from home.”

Carlos Martínez and Vadim Demidov return to the visitors’ squad, although promising midfielder Rubén Pardo and former Sevilla left-back Alberto de la Bella did not make the trip.

Earlier in the season we ran out 4-0 winners in San Sebastián as Falcao hit a hat-trick, and a similar result tomorrow would stand us in great stead heading into our vital final three games next week. Simeone is expected to reveal his squad later on this evening.

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Domínguez, Miranda, Juanfran, Manquillo
Midfielders: Mario, Salvio, Arda, Koke, Assunção, Gabi, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao and Pedro

Real Sociedad match selection:
Goalkeepers: Bravo, Ramírez
Defenders: Ansotegui, Carlos Martínez, Estrada, Demidov, Mikel González, Cadamuro
Midfielders: Xabi Prieto, Illarramendi, Elustondo, Zurutuza, Aranburu, Griezmann
Forwards: Vela, Agirretxe, Ifrán, Llorente

Referee: Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva

  • Javi Lozoya

    It’s gonna be a complicated match but Atleti should win.
    It’s great to see Manquillo getting call up once again. Hope he gets a start if neither Juanfran or Perea are fully fit to play as right backs. Hope we finally see Pedro playing and get some minutes so Falcao gets some rest. Martin played literally the last minute against Betis but couldn’t even to touch the ball!, so I really hopes he plays more minutes tomorrow.

  • Come on atletico rest some big players but three points is a MUST so i wouldnt advise it but still the next two league games decides our campaign. Come on Atletico you can do it.

    Aupa Atleti!!!!

  • costinescu

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  • solari

    personally I don’t expect any difficulties, and I’m prety sure that we’re gonna end up at the top 4 this season…

  • Dircil

    @solari: wow I guess, I’m not the only optimistic one :))

  • Javi Lozoya

    I’m optimistic as well that we can qualify to Champions League. Cholo is on the house, he is a great coach. The best coach Atleti has had in years. The team has a great fighting spirit. I just love this team. And as palc mentioned, Falcao’s goal against Betis at the last minute, might just be the goal for CL qualification.

  • Popescu

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  • Sinan

    If Levante loses and we win, then we have a equal of points with them. Who will end up higher then we or they ?

  • shay

    when it comes to europa league trophy or champions next year.. i say champions!! we deserve it!!

  • leika

    wtf are they doing there. we lack speed, creativity, running into spaces, enthusiasm, they are literally standing there and just walking aleays going throught the flank

  • ratchet

    if we dont improve CL is over

  • Javi Lozoya

    Very intense game but lackluster. Neither team managed to keep possession of the ball. Players don’t keep the ball on the ground and instead try long hard passes and that bothers me because Atleti has great players with good passing skills, Arda, Koke, Adrian, we need some clarity upfront, Diego needs to come in.

  • Javi Lozoya

    Also notice La Real tight marking. They sometimes mark one man of us with two of them. It’s not easy with a team like them.

  • Javi Lozoya

    Mario needs to come out. He is a cantero but is not doing much for his cause really. Gabi does not only his own job but Mario’s, it’s not easy like that, plus Mario has a yellow card and keeps on making fouls, Cholo must take him out

  • Epoy


  • Javi Lozoya

    Gabi Golazo!!!!!, I’m very happy for him, he deserves it, he is one of my favorites player

  • Javi Lozoya

    Told you guys he is one of our most important players and he showed it with at a difficult time with a golazo when we needed the most, Grande Gabi!

  • shay

    have to admit i underastimated him when he returned home.. im sorry for that

    vamos gabi!!!

  • Epoy

    grande gabi!!! wtf!

  • shay

    kiddin me…..

  • Epoy

    godin, dominguez and miranda playing at the same time.. Sweet!

  • Epoy


  • Lubo

    Courtois cost us 4 points in last 2 matches, go to London, Chelsea kid.. He’s not able to hold this team when it matters, I hope he is gone next season..

  • Epoy

    Champions League ambition is over… Come on Cholo, send the cantera for the game against Malaga to rest our starters for Europa League finals..

  • Dircil

    uh oh, no CL qualifying now!! We better focus on the Europa League final

  • leika

    I volunteer myself to play for atleti next season and bring us Champions League football, but I need 10 more men.

  • AtletiFanInPhilly

    Could Courtois have done more on that ball?

  • leika

    this was probably the worst home game this season

  • Epoy

    just imagine how strong our chances for CL if we only did not f*ck up our last 2 games. We got those games in the bag for God’s sake… 4 points wasted…

  • Lubo

    Courtois was standing 2 steps away from the ball, watching and waiting what will others do with it. Keeper simply HAS TO RULE in his 6 yrd box.

  • kabir

    you guys, im sorry to say this but lets just forget about the league. our first squad can compete against any other in europe, but our bench would be playing in the second division. we can’t compete on so many fronts with such a short squad. let’s just enjoy the europa league final, and hope the squad is strengthened over the summer.