As we all know by now, our biggest game of the season comes around this weekend, but before the derby there is still the second leg of our Copa del Rey tie against Real Jaén on Wednesday night to take care of.
“Partido a partido” is the phrase everyone keeps pointing to, and this game will serve as a good chance to see some of our youngsters in first team action.
Kick-off in the Calderón is 19:30 CET.
On Sunday, the home crowd witnessed a superb showing as Atleti thrashed Sevilla, and they will be hoping for another big win to really build up the momentum ahead of the big one.
Again, Cholo has decided to rotate and make the most of the payroll, and with a 3-0 advantage from the first leg a month ago, we may now get the chance to see a few of the canteranos step up.
Only two players in the squad, Courtois and Miranda, are expected to start in the Bernabéu, with Juanfran, Godín, Filipe, Mario, Gabi, Arda, Koke, Diego Costa and Falcao all given a watching brief.
Instead, the back-up players will get a chance to play and gain fitness should they be needed on Saturday, as well as B-team stars Javi Manquillo, Saúl Ñíguez, Óliver Torres and Pedro Martín.
Fans will be anticipating a home debut for the much-hyped Óliver especially, but all four have been progressing well and more than deserve a chance in a game like this.
Manquillo has played every minute of action in Segunda B this season, whereas Saúl is the reserves’ top scorer so far with five goals from midfield. Pedro, traditionally a centre-forward, has been utilised in more of a wide role – even wearing the number 7 shirt – but is one of the key players still.
In his press conference this morning, Simeone typically highlighted the importance of keeping to the game-by-game approach, as well as giving confidence to the Cantera and the potential our young players have.
“The most important thing for us is the next game,” he said. “There will be time to think about the derby after Wednesday, now we hope to finish the tie we started in Jaén.”
When asked whether the kids drafted into the 16-man squad would get a chance to start, the suggestions were positive.
“The fans like to see us win and that’s what we want to do, but if you can show them the future with our canteranos, that’s always much better. They are the future for us all, especially the way things are economically.”
“Tomorrow we’ll have a team out that can win.” he finished.
Back in October, Cholo gave minutes to Óliver and Saúl but only as subsitutes as Atleti ran out 3-0 winners in Jaén, with goals from Diego Costa, Adrián and Raúl García sealing the win that night.
However, Manolo Herrero’s side were not disheartened by the defeat, and like the Rojiblancos are second domestically, hot on the trail of league-leaders Cartagena.
The last time they visited the Calderón was back in 2001, with Fernando Torres scoring his second goal for the club in a 2-0 win. Getafe or Ponferradina await us in the round of 16 should we progress, with the La Liga outfit firmly in control after the first leg.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Asenjo, Courtois
Defenders: Pulido, Cisma, Sílvio, Cata Díaz, Miranda, Manquillo
Midfielders: Tiago, Raúl García, Cristian Rodríguez, Emre, Saúl, Óliver
Forwards: Adrián, Pedro