Match preview: Atlético vs. Hapoel Tel-Aviv

Atleti call upon their fringe players to secure Europa League passage

Cebolla in the reverse fixture

Cebolla in the reverse fixture (

Qualification to the last 32 of the Europa League can be sealed on Thursday night, as Atlético host the group’s bottom side Hapoel Tel-Aviv at the Vicente Calderón.

Despite defeat at Académica on the last matchday, Diego Simeone has again decided to rotate his squad for the visit of the Israeli outfit, with Sunday’s clash against Sevilla perhaps in mind.

Kick-off in the Spanish capital is set for 21:05 CET.

On Sunday, the red and whites secured a second successive win at Granada after our early November blip, and will be looking to continue building momentum ahead of some of the games we have coming up.

In September our fringe players put in a commanding performance away at Hapoel to win 3-0, and they will be looking to replicate that showing in front of the home fans tomorrow.

Only a win will 100% guarantee our place in the next round at this stage, and with Viktoria Plzeň level at the top of the group, anything other than victory against a side already eliminated from the competition will be seen as unacceptable.

As far as squad news goes, Radamel Falcao, Arda Turan, Gabi, Diego Godín, Juanfran and Filipe have all been given a rest, with Domingo Cisma, Sílvio and Jorge Pulido returning to the squad.

B-team players Saúl Ñíguez, who turns 18 today, Kader Oueslati and Pedro Martín are also called-up, as has been the case throughout the competition so far.

The defeat in Portugal two weeks ago has complicated things slightly as far as winning the group goes, but Cholo stressed in his press conference that his team will be fully motivated to put things right.

“We need to have a good game, stay top of the table and qualify as group leaders,” he told them. “The game against Hapoel has our full attention, as we want to be back in the Europa League in the new year.”

Simeone will also complete his 50th game in charge against the Red Demons on Thursday, but refused to give too much significance to individual statistics.

“Managers live for the next match. After the losses to Valencia and Académica we were not comfortable. We need to to focus, because, as I said long ago, these types of statistics are situations that you will leave behind.”

On the pitch, Cholo is likely to pair Adrián and Diego Costa in attack, with both playing for a starting role against Sevilla at the weekend.

Our Europa League regulars such as Sílvio, Cata Díaz, Emre, Cristian Rodríguez and Pulido will probably play too, and Mario Suárez is also expected to start given that he’ll be suspended on Sunday.

In addition to those, our designated goalkeeper for this competition, Sergio Asenjo, will also come in for Thibaut Courtois, and he spoke to the press about his role at the club earlier in the week.

“Last year I felt very good, it was a year of transition. Now I am happy to play in Europe and help the team, as it is an important step”, he said. “Nobody’s place is safe, and I hope Simeone will continue to be confident in me.”

As for the visitors, only pride is at stake following their premature exit in Plzeň a fortnight ago. They have also seen the departure of manager Nitzan Shirazi since our last meeting, now under the guidance of his assistant Yossi Abukasis.

Currently joint-top of their domestic league and in a race for the title, they are not expected to field their strongest team in the Calderón, with Walid Badir, Toto Tamuz and the suspended Eric Djemba-Djemba all left in Tel-Aviv for the match.

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Asenjo, Courtois
Defenders: Pulido, Cisma, Sílvio, Cata Díaz, Miranda, Kader
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Cristian Rodríguez, Emre, Saúl
Forwards: Adrián, Diego Costa, Pedro

Referee: Martin Hansson (Sweden)

  • Ringo

    I think this shall be the line up:
    Asenjo; Silvio, Pulido, Diaz, Cisma; Mario, Tiago; Koke, Emre, Cristian; Adrian.
    With the possibility of Kader instead of Cisma and Costa instead of Koke or Cristian.
    I hope to see Koke start against Sevilla…

  • Shlomgar

    Today’s game would be the most important in a while. It will decide our future in this competition for sure.
    If given the chance I would offer two changes: First I would prefer Falcao to play at least one half to get his Mojo back. Two, Juanfran, for the biggest threat for our defense this season is Silvio.

  • Ratchet

    People, please, shut up about political issues. This is a place to discuss ATLETICO and not the place for a political debate. @Atletico- beasts everyone here can understand, but there is no need, I repeat, no need to post it here. You can use Twitter or FaceBook for that. @Atletico- palestine (probably the same person) just go away. Your arguments are beyond ridiculous. So everyone, from now on, if you’re gonna post about Israel, or anything like that, please don’t bother.

    So, back on topic, I think Atleti will win this comfortably. We qualify and thats mission complete. Im saying 3-0 Atletico

  • Shlomgar

    3-1, our back is still weak. 🙂

  • Billy Edwards

    Deleted all the political comments, please keep it on topic guys.

  • Shlomgar

    Tnx Billy
    Am I the only one nervous about this one? Is it still Old Atleti of me to claim that this one is nothing but a game for us to lose? We don’t have our back against the wall, but we would. If we lose it.
    Sounds too edgy for me, I would be nail-less in an hour.

  • Kabir

    @Ratchet i’m sorry but it’s a bit unfair that you only condemn the palestinian guy, don’t you think? they were all being dumbasses

  • Ratchet

    I was telling everyone to stop, but he was the worst I believe. Still, I think everyone should just leave it, I never just condemned one person, you’re right, more than just that guy where to blame.

  • Kabir

    this isn’t a political comment: frente atletico just chanted “puta israel, puta israel”. called it.

  • Atletico- palestine

    Thank you kabir…
    Congrats we won 🙂 althought i expected bigger result, next we have to win against sevilla…
    Aupa atleeeeeeettiiiiiiiii