Atlético hope to avoid the so-called ‘FIFA Virus’ when they head south into Andalusia to take on Granada at the Nuevo Estadio de Los Cármenes.
Kick-off on Sunday is set for 19:45 CET.
Following their 2-0 win last weekend over Getafe at the Vicente Calderón, 11 Rojiblancos joined their respective national teams for the latest round of international friendlies.
Regular Atleti starters Falcao, Juanfran, Arda and Diego Godín all saw extensive action in their countries’ shirts, but fortunately returned to Madrid unscathed.
In Arda’s case, this is somewhat of a minor miracle. The Turk seemingly more often than not tends to come back to the squad banged up and unavailable immediately after national side duty.
The Turkish playmaker’s availability is obviously great news for a Diego Simeone dead set on making sure his men achieve their Champions League objective, as evidenced by his heavy rotational policy thus far when it comes to midweek European competition.
Los Rojiblancos will be after their fourth away win of the present La Liga campaign, having succumbed to defeat for the first time this season a fortnight ago in Valencia–the club’s only league loss in 2012/13.
A triumph at the Los Cármenes could offer us up to a 12-point cushion in the long-and-drawn-out race for a Champions League spot when it is all said and done this weekend, with Málaga being held to a draw against Osasuna in Pamplona on Saturday and Betis facing a tough derby clash versus city rivals Sevilla at the Ramón Sánchez Pizjuán on Sunday.
Though our opponents are currently in critical condition just one point safe of the relegation zone and in 16th place in the standings, right-back Juanfran refused to downplay the difficulty of this game, admitting that Atleti have to play “a very good game” if they want to reel in all three points.
“We consider this match our most important of the season,” the Spain international told reporters on Saturday.
“We are under that mentality that every game is important and that they can all be decisive when it comes to achieving our objective.
“It’s a very important match, one of those that leaves a mark and serves as a guide to determine where you are at the end of the season.”
There were no surprise inclusions or exclusions in ‘El Cholo’s match selection for this trip, with Joel, Domingo Cisma, Pulido and Sìlvio being left behind in the Spanish capital.
Curiously, El Graná have had less luck at home this season than they’ve had on their travels. Only five of their eleven points have been secured at their ground.
Juan Antonio Anquela’s men stopped the bleeding last Friday when they upset Betis 2-1 in Sevilla. Granada had lost four straight matches prior to that encounter.
The former Alcorcón boss earned himself an extended stay at the helm of the Andalusian outfit, but a third consecutive loss at home on Sunday may very well spell his demise.
The injured Diego Mainz, Jaime Romero, Fran Rico and Hassan Yebda will not be at our hosts’ disposal, while Anquela opted to leave Floro Flores and Lucena off the squad for this bout through tactical decision.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Asenjo, Courtois
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Cata Díaz, Juanfran, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Cebolla, Gabi, Emre
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Diego Costa
Granada match selection:
Goalkeepers: Toño, Roberto
Defenders: Nyom, Diakhaté, Íñigo López, Siqueira, Juanma Ortíz, Brayan Angulo, Borja Gómez
Midfielders: Moisés Hurtado, Brahimi, Iriney, Orellana, Dani Benítez, Torje, Mikel Rico
Forwards: El-Arabi, Machís, Odion Ighalo
Referee: José Luis González González