Atlético Madrid will be looking to pick themselves up following last week’s derby defeat, starting with a tough trip to Deportivo La Coruña on Saturday night.
The Galician strugglers have been at the bottom end of the table all season, but have found real form lately in their battle to avoid the drop.
Kick-off in the Riazor is set for 22:00 CET.
A week ago, we were all building up to what was supposed to be ‘our biggest ever chance to beat Real Madrid’, but saw our hopes come crashing down in typical fashion as los Blancos‘ back-up side took the points.
Not only did the loss demoralise pretty much everyone involved with the club, but also sees Real go six points ahead, and effectively ends our chances of breaking up the top two.
However, just a point at Depor would seal our place in the Champions League for next season, so motivation should be high amongst Diego Simeone’s team.
The Argentine boss has had his options strengthened this week too, as Arda Turan received the medical green light to return from injury.
After missing the whole of April, the Turkish international took place on the bench in our friendly win in Azerbaijan on Tuesday, and has been training with the squad for a week now.
He will not be starting on Saturday though, or so it seems. In his press conference on Thursday, Simeone all but confirmed his line-up for the match, with just the suspended Diego Costa and Koke making way from the derby XI.
“Koke and Diego Costa cannot play so Adrián and Cristian [Rodríguez] will play instead,” he said. “Otherwise it will be the same team that played last Saturday.”
“We have not spoken much of that game, as we are focused on thinking about the next game.”
Cholo also had words for the opposition, and praised the Branquiazuis’ upturn in form.
“The results have allowed them to regain a bit of confidence, which is essential in football. They want to play football, with the ball at their feet,” he told journalists. “Hopefully this game will bring us closer to our important goal of reaching the Champions League, but it will be tough.”
Atlético have had a hand in Depor’s recent rise, as two of their key men, Portuguese duo Sílvio and Pizzi, are on loan from the Rojiblancos.
The latter especially has enjoyed a great season in A Coruña, hitting 8 goals in total, but both will be ineligible against their parent club due to a clause in their contracts.
Diego Salomão, Carlos Marchena and Tomás Laure are also out injured, and Abel Aguilar will serve a suspension. The home side will have ex-Atleti man Paulo Assunção available, although he has played mainly as a substitute since his January move.
The Brazilian veteran was in the squad the last time we played at the Riazor a little over two years ago, as a late Kun Agüero goal separated the sides. In this year’s reverse fixture, Radamel Falcao was the star as his stunning five goal performance sealed a 6-0 win in the Vicente Calderón.
After the match, the team will most likely return to Madrid, but they will be back up in Galicia as early as next Wednesday, as we play Celta Vigo, a fixture advance due to the Copa del Rey final, at Los Balaídos.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Cata Díaz, Juanfran, Insúa, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Raúl García, Arda, C. Rodríguez, Gabi, Saúl, Óliver
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao