Atlético will host their second ‘mini-derby’ of the season on Sunday, as neighbouring Getafe make the quick trip north to the Vicente Calderón.
The clash kicks-off at 19:45 CET, a time sandwiched between our direct rivals’, Barcelona and Real Madrid’s, respective games.
Los Colchoneros come into this encounter on the back of a pair of streak-busting defeats in La Liga and in Europa League action.
Gone are the days of our historic 23-game unbeaten run, snapped with a loss in Valencia last weekend; and gone is our 16-game win streak in UEFA play, broken in Portugal when we fell to Académica de Coimbra at the midweek.
For those Red and White sympathisers that remain in denial (ourselves included), take consolation in the fact that one of our streaks still remains standing: our eight-game win streak at home in all competitions.
While Rojiblanco boss Diego Simeone recognises his men must bounce back from this blip, he’s unconcerned with the slump–the team’s worst since he assumed control last December.
“We need to recover our label as a team,” he told reporters at Saturday’s pre-game press conference.
“I don’t express what I felt after the two defeats. They weren’t the same in terms of performance, but we lost the two games and in that sense they are the same. Confidence wise I am not worried about the team.
“The game against Valencia ought to be the road to follow.”
Thousands of Radamel Falcao’s countrymen are expected to pay the Calderón a visit and watch our ‘Tigre de Oro’ in the hunt, live and in the flesh, as a special promotion co-sponsored by the Colombian embassy in Madrid will offer the striker’s compatriots a heavily discounted ticket (€8).
In his feline dialect of English, Falcao tweeted about his excitement ahead of the unique event.
“Tomorrow it’s gonna be a great day! my 3 colors national flag it will be all around the Vicente Calderón! Hope to see you there!!” the 26-year-old wrote.
The FIFA Ballon d’Or candidate will be extra-motivated (if that’s even possible) to find the back of the net, which is good news for our hombres, who have been shutout our past two games after a 24-match stretch of picking up at least one-goal.
With Málaga and Betis both suffering losses on Saturday, a victory against the former human Burger King advertisements would give us a 10-point cushion in our quest for Champions League qualification.
‘El Cholo’ enlisted all 22 members of the first team squad for this match.
Diego Costa and Cristian ‘Cebolla’ Rodríguez have apparently overcome their nagging injuries, while Miranda and Mario will be game-day calls for Simeone and his medical staff.
Should our Brazilian centre-back not be fit to play, Argentine defender Cata Díaz may end up facing off against his former team-mates.
Los Azulones enter this bout following a painful 4-2 home loss to Betis in the previous round that left them in 12th and just 3 points clear of the relegation zone.
Curiously, Getafe have secured more points on the road than they have at their notoriously usually near-empty stadium.
El Geta manager Luis García, a former Atleti youth product, offered some lofty praise for his boyhood club.
“Atlético Madrid are the sensation of the league,” he said.
“The team have shown they can compete with the best. They had 16 consecutive victories in Europe and eight in the league.
“When a team does this they are an alternative for the league.”
García continued: “Hopefully we can hold on because they are a team with tremendous faith in what they are doing. Moreover, they are very united between the fans, the team and the coach.
“We have to have a great game to beat them.”
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Asenjo, Courtois, Joel
Defenders: Filipe Luís, Miranda, Godín, Pulido, Cata Díaz, Juanfran, Sílvio, Cisma
Midfielders: Emre, Koke, Cebolla, Tiago, Mario, Gabi, Raúl, Arda
Forwards: Diego Costa, Adrián, Falcao
Getafe match selection:
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Codina
Defenders: Alexis, Mané, Miguel Torres, Rafa, Valera
Midfielders: Lacen, Gavilán, Pedro León, Diego Castro, Lafita, Barrada, J. Rodríguez, Xavi Torres
Forwards: Álvaro, Colunga, Paco Alcácer