Atlético will look to turn around their recent tumble in form when they visit Valladolid for a league clash on Sunday.
Proceedings get underway at the Purple and Whites’ José Zorrilla Stadium at 19:00 CET.
Diego Simeone’s men have been very unconvincing of late, with all of their troubles coming from matches away from home–that was…until Thursday.
Previously invincible at the Vicente Calderón and carrying a club record 20-game home win streak dating back to last season, Atleti were defeated in embarrassing fashion at the midweek by Russian outfit Rubin Kazan in Europa League play.
That loss was preceded by an anemic display at Vallecas last Sunday, Rayo’s 2-1 triumph amounting to los Rojiblancos’ eighth consecutive exit without a victory.
Two worrisome characteristics from that pair of misadventures were that our guys conceded a goal in the opening minutes and did not get a single shot on target off until five minutes into the second half.
Despite the slump, Atleti remain in second place in La Liga and have a firm grip on a Champions League place in the domestic competition.
‘El Cholo’ tried to take the sting out of his squad’s recent woes, explaining to those in attendance at Saturday’s press conference that these ups-and-downs are normal for any club.
“We lost a league match and a Europa League one, but that doesn’t change my stance of 15 days ago,” he said.
“I continue to think the same way. Our objective is to look to the next game as if it were the last, and that’s what has worked for us to attract attention so far this season. Obviously, teams have good moments and other not so good moments, and we have to know how to respond. I hope to see an intense team that recaptures its essence, which is what identifies us most in our game.
“We know that the important thing is how you finish and not how you are doing at a given moment.”
Striker Diego Costa is ready to rumble again, and should offer his coach plenty of that intensity he feels his side have been lacking lately.
The ‘Beast of the Manzanares’ was kept locked up and in chains in Madrid for our past two games while serving suspensions and will undoubtedly be very eager to torment opposing defenders.
“It’s possible the team have missed [Costa] recently,” Simeone said.
“His physical strength, his positioning in attack, his aggression and his will to win make him a player that opponents really fear, and make him an important weapon for us.
“We hope he’ll play well and will be able to put in a good performance.”
The Argentine tactician did not call upon any Atlético B players for this game, while lone winter signing Emiliano Insúa’s name appeared in an Atleti squad for the first time since his arrival.
“My first selection; this is a special day! I have a lot of desire to put on this shirt!” Insúa wrote on his Twitter account Saturday.
Domingo Cisma and Jorge Pulido have once again been left off Cholo’s list through technical decision.
Miroslav Djukic’s men, who we narrowly bested 2-1 at the Calderón back in late September, come into this affair following back-to-back draws and are winless in their last three encounters.
Currently 12th in the league standings and 10-points clear of the drop zone, three points will offer them a chance to fight for a European place.
The Pucela are still dealing with injuries to Víctor Pérez, Patrick Ebert and Marc Valiente, while Valdet Rama recently suffered a knock and will also be unavailable. Henrique Serreno will serve a one-match suspension and will not be at Djukic’s disposal.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Sergio Asenjo, Courtois
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luis, Cata Díaz, Juanfran, Insua, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda Turan, Cristian Rodríguez, Gabi
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Diego Costa
Valladolid match selection:
Goalkeepers: Dani, Jaime
Defenders: Rukavina, Jesús Rueda, Peña, Balenziaga, Baraja, Casado, Rubén Peña
Midfielders: Álvaro Rubio, Sastre, Omar, Óscar
Forwards: Javi Guerra, Manucho, Bueno, Neira, Larsson
Referee: Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva