Atlético hope to continue building on their resoundingly successful work in 2012 as their first match of the New Year gets underway at Mallorca on Sunday (21:00 CET).
Suspensions to three critical players in Falcao, Arda and Miranda will make the task against the Balearic outfit a challenging one for Diego Simeone’s men though.
Adrián, who lost his place in the starting line-up to fellow striker Diego Costa earlier in the present campaign but scored the match-winner in the last game of the year at home against Celta, will appear in the fold and is confident the Rojiblanco replacements can get the job done.
The forward did warn, however, “It will be a tough game because they need the points, they play at home and they are always strong there on their field.”
“I’m eager to play, that’s for sure, just like all of my team-mates,” the Asturian said in a press conference on Saturday.
“I’m happy about the last game before the break, about being able to help the team with that goal and, personally, my objective is to continue helping the team however I can, and if it’s with goals, then all the better.”
With regard to all the rumours swirling around the club’s star players, including himself, Adrián said:
“We’re all used to it when these times come; there are always rumours about certain players but we’re all calm, thinking about Atleti, our team, and above all else on trying to continue playing the way we have been.
“Nobody really cares about those rumours.”
Simeone, whose squad enters 2013 in second place nine points behind Barcelona and seven points clear of third place Real Madrid, called up Atlético B youngsters Pedro and Saúl to fill in on the bench.
The Argentine tactician is fortunate left-back Filipe Luís is back at his disposal, recovering from a muscle injury over the holidays.
Emre will remain in Madrid with our suspended starters through tactical decision, while Sílvio completed his loan deal with Deportivo on Friday days after Joel had joined Wigan on loan.
Our island opponents had gotten off to a decent start before taking a steep tumble, the worst of which included a 14-game winless streak.
That months-long slump ended with an unlikely away victory in Sevilla against Betis just before the Christmas break–a match in which Joaquín Caparrós‘ men were outshout 17 to 3 but were much more effective with their few chances.
With regard to our lethal ‘Tigre’s’ absence from the Iberostar Stadium, the former Athletic Bilbao coach claimed Atleti were the lucky ones, not his side.
“Atlético are lucky Falcao will only be unavailable for one game,” he said.
“We’ve been without up to six key players for about four to six months.”
Caparros did have some words of praise for los Colchoneros though.
“They are second in La Liga, which says a lot, they have a great team and a great coach that has transmitted his spirit to the team and says things clearly and I love that,” he said.
Unfortunately, we’ll miss out on meeting up with our former ‘Capi’ Antonio López, out with a knee injury. Joao is also out for Mallorca with an injury, while Miño and Anderson were left off the match selection through tactical decision. Víctor will be unavailable through suspension.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Sergio Asenjo, Courtois
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luis, Pulido, Domingo Cisma, Cata Díaz, Juanfran
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Cristian Rodríguez, Gabi, Saúl
Forwards: Adrián, Diego Costa, Pedro
Mallorca match selection:
Goalkeepers: Calatayud, Aouate
Defenders: Bigas, Fontás, Geromel, Kevin, Nunes, Ximo
Midfielders: Alfaro, Márquez, Pina, Pereira, Martí
Forwards: Giovani, Nsue, Álvaro, Arizmendi, Tomer
Referee: Antonio Miguel Mateu Lahoz