Match preview: Atlético vs. Rubin Kazan

Europa League defence recommences for los Colchoneros with Russian test

Rubin players celebrate

Rubin celebrate famous Camp Nou win in 2009
(standard.co.uk)

After its winter hibernation, Thursday brings the return of the Europa League to the Spanish capital, with Atleti looking to defend the title they’ve won twice in the last three years.

First up on the Road to Amsterdam is Russian outfit Rubin Kazan, who will be looking to do what no team has done this season and get some kind of result in the Vicente Calderón.

Kick-off is scheduled for 21:05 CET.

Given the great success we’ve had in the Europa League in recent years, you can be sure the team will give the tournament ultimate respect, especially now that we’ve reached the knock-out stages.

However, for the first time this season, we will see a full strength team take to the field, with the likes of Arda Turan, Radamel Falcao and Diego Godín all set to make their first European apperances since the Super Cup win.

Last year, we won every game we played under Simeone on the way to beating Athletic Bilbao in the final and setting a new continental record, but the run ended in this year’s group stage, despite our ‘B’ team still managing to qualify comfortably.

It seems now though, with a healthy points total having been amassed, there will be less focus on the league and more on the competitions, with important players having been rested in recent defeats to Athletic and Rayo.

The squad for tomorrow is near it’s strongest and there are no injury worries, but, perhaps crucially, Diego Costa will serve the first of a four game ban that stretches from last December. In defeat to Viktoria Plzeň, the Brazilian’s temper overboiled late on and he saw straight red for a rash headbutt.

This does open the door again for Adrián though, one of the heroes in our 2012 triumph. The Asturian has under-performed on the whole this year, but will get chances to prove the doubters wrong in his favoured competition.

On that note it’s also worth mentioning, for the second time, that Falcao is also in line for his season debut against Rubin, having top scored in the Europa League two year’s running. With Napoli’s Edinson Cavani already on 7 goals he has some work to do to defend his crown, but we wouldn’t put it past him.

Youngsters Javi Manquillo and Saúl Ñíguez are in the squad, but Jorge Pulido and Domingo Cisma miss out. Óliver Torres is ineligible, as is new singing Emiliano Insúa, as he has already featured this season for old club Sporting.

In his press conference, Cholo addressed the issue of squad usage, and re-iterated just how difficult it is to successfully compete on three different fronts.

“Competing in League, Cup and UEFA Europa League, makes it a very long season,” he told the local media. “Physically the team is responding well. I repeat the game away cost us more but we are in very good condition physically.”

“From now on we will face a lot of game and I hope to have everyone available and physically well. Hopefully we can have some rotation to remain as competitive as we have been since the championship started in all three competitions.”

As usual, the Argentine tactician spoke about the opposition and remained wary and respectful, also making clear that he had the team fully prepared.

“We have seen videos. They play very well, they try to play the ball around,” he said.

“Widemen like Ansaldi can can play in different positions, strikers like Rondon, Eremenko or whoever the coach picks, will make it a very difficult game tomorrow.”

Also speaking earlier in the week was back-up goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo, who will reportedly get the nod, not just tomorrow but in the rest of the Europa League games this season.

Having played all six of the group games, MARCA ran a story Wednesday saying that Simeone has confidence in his number two choice, and will let him take this tournament with Courtois reserved for league and cup.

The 23-year-old sounded ready to seize his opportunity in a Tuesday press conference, he another who has had his doubters in his time with the Rojiblancos.

“I am proud of what I have done,” he said. “The work and the daily struggle goes with me, it is my way of being and when I may have opportunities like in the Europa League, it’s up to me to take advantage of them.”

Switching attention to Rubin, the main thing to note is that because of the Russian league calendar, they have been out of competitive action for over two months now.

Their season ended in December, but they have been keeping busy with a series of friendly matches since then. Results haven’t been the best though, beaten 1-0 respectively against Rapid Bucharest, CFR Cluj and Dnipro Dnipropetrovsk in the past two weeks.

Transfer-wise they have also been active, most notably signing French midfielder Yann M’Vila from Rennes last month. The youngster, who took on Atleti in this tournament last season, is an injury doubt for both ties though.

Also in their ranks is the Spanish trio of César Navas, Pablo Orbaiz and Ivan Marcano, all of whom ex-La Liga players who will be familiar with the task at hand.

The prize for whoever goes through is a last 16 encounter with either Levante or Olympiacos, although that will be settled in next week’s return leg in Russia, moved from Kazan to Moscow due to extreme weather conditions.

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Asenjo, Courtois
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Cata Díaz, Juanfran, Miranda, Manquillo
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Cristian Rodríguez, Gabi, Saúl
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao


  • Gert

    As we saw yesterday at the Dortmund game, despite of the competition being on hold, the teams can still get a result.

    Please Cholo, no Cata this time….

  • Silchas

    According to Courtois Facebook-Page he won’t play today to due rotation plans of Cholo.
    So we will play with a better B-team and hopefully we won’t get beat up by Rubin.

  • Rojiblanco93

    Asenjo in goal and we are without another clean sheet. We will concide our goal …. Asenjo isn´t able to hold his goal clean.

  • JimboWithTheDancingShoes

    Cholo either naiv or genius with this lineup.

  • super3athens

    at least only cata is someone who shouldn’t play for me

  • Silchas

    and there it goes…
    0:1 Executive Producers Daniel Alberto Díaz & Sergio Asenjo 😀

  • super3athens

    what the ***??? come on guys

  • Matthijs

    Cata is a piece of shit!

  • Atletico- palestine

    Lets admit we are very weak team in 2013…
    It seems we were lucky in 2012

  • Alex21

    WHAT THE FUCK??

  • super3athens

    pff we are going nowhere we MUST change this shit or i think the only goal is to keep a champions league spot and that will be difficult

  • super3athens

    THE END

  • Andres (Lolaya)

    Asenjo is stupid…. wth is he doing… its not like its the 2nd leg and we are losing…. WHAT IS HE DOING

  • Matthijs

    WHAT THE HELL!!!!

  • super3athens

    totally agree i’m sure simeone lost the team i’m sure he won’t be at atleti next year same as falcao… so our europe trip finish here, our winning streak at calderon finish here let’s hope for the best because i only see black clouds at calderon if we continue that way we won’t be at copa del ray final and we won’t stay 2nd(at least maybe worst) any way we rotated with rayo for that shit??? something is not going well

  • Will

    Asenjo is completely retarded!!!!! What a dumbass!!! Retarded! Completely useless player! Man, what a dumbass!

  • Well we have to score 3 goals away and it almost impossible to win away as it is. Lets hope the boys can show their full potential and please BRING COURTOIS BACK!!!!!!!!!

  • Atletico- palestine

    The worst game everrrrrrrrrr…. 45 min having the ball with us vs 10 men and accepting 2nd goal!!!!!!
    What the fuck adrian, arda, cristian and koke are doing no single pass…
    Believe me if this continues no champions league we will get out of cope del ray and europa league….
    Stupid simeone!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Will

    What happened to COURTOIS? Why the hell he didn’t play today? And why we have to see Cata’s ugly face over and over again in the first team?

  • Atletico- palestine

    Real shame what happened tonight!
    Very sad for the result and more for the way we are playing last 3 games!!!!!!

  • Jorge

    Whoa, relax there palestine! Did you really say we’re a weak team? Ahead of Real and trailing only an other-worldly Barcelona? SuperCup champs? Still alive in Europe and domestic cups? Have 2 drinks and call me in the morning. You sound like a supporter of another Madrid team.

  • Kabir

    you guys are ridiculous. this was simeones fault. he ordered asenjo up the field. what happened to the cautious simeone.

  • AtleticoPhilly

    All reports indicate Simeone sent Asenjo up. So, we cannot blame Asenjo.

    We can also blame Simeone for playing Cata, again. Pulido should be getting these minutes — Cata is not showing anything exciting, and he is not the future of this team.

  • Rojiblanco93

    Look at the third comment I told u these guy is useless!!!! Absolutely shiiiiit!!!! No words for cata,.
    It’s hard to understand Cholo right now !!