Amid all the Copa del Rey final talk and buzz about boss Diego Simeone’s long-term contract extension at Atlético, los Rojiblancos must fix their attention on a Real Sociedad side that have only lost once in 2013.
Sunday’s league clash against the San Sebastián-based outfit kicks-off at the Vicente Calderón at 21:00 CET.
This fixture will bring bitter memories to the Rojiblanco faithful, as a very late Real Sociedad goal last season scored by Carlos Vela erased two points from Atleti’s account that would have been enough for a Champions League berth for los Colchoneros.
A lot of offensive talent will be on display at the Manzanares River bend Sunday night.
“It’s a tough match,” Simeone said in his pre-game press conference.
“Away from their stadium they do things very well. From midfield up they have great players. This will be an intensely demanding match that will require commitment to remain on the same path we’ve been on.”
‘El Cholo’ then called-up the Atlético faithful to his match selection.
“On Sunday, we need the support of the fans,” he said.
“We’re closer to the objective that everyone wants, which is to see us in the Champions League.”
The only real novelty in the club legend and manager’s match selection was the presence of Atleti B midfielder Thomas.
The 19-year-old Ghanaian netted the match-winner for the reserve side in their triumph over Tenerife last Sunday, and will be accompanied on the bench by fellow B team squad member Óliver Torres, a familiar face to our other benchwarmers.
Cholo will be without his beloved Tiago, still recovering from surgery on his arm, and the suspended Mario Suárez, while Jorge Pulido and Domingo ‘Any Given Sunday’ Cisma were not selected by the Argentine tactician.
La Real are unbeaten in their last eight games, a streak that includes a 3-2 win over powerhouse and league-leaders Barcelona.
Back in October at the Anoeta, Falcao curled in a stoppage time free kick to break a 0-0 deadlock and snatch up all three points for his side–handing the Basques their first defeat at home this season.
An eye for an eye?
Philippe Montanier’s men, in spitting distance of a Champions League place, will certainly be looking to avenge that defeat. They’ll have a chance to redeem themselves if they can put an end to Atleti’s perfect record at Cholo Castle in league play.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luís, Cata, Juanfran, Insúa, Miranda
Midfielders: Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Cebolla, Gabi, Óliver, Thomas
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Diego Costa
Real Sociedad match selection: TBA
Referee: Miguel Ángel Ayza Gámez