AF Pow-wow: Replacements against Barça?

Our staff discusses whether Cholo should rest his big stars ahead of next week's final

Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao

Full strength Atleti versus Barcelona?

With third place and Champions League qualification all locked up, the AtléticoFans tribe wonders if ‘El Cholo’ should field a squad composed of mostly replacements against Barcelona this Sunday in order to prevent an untimely injury ahead of next Thursday’s Copa del Rey final versus Real Madrid.

While it would make sense not to take any big risks before a clash of such great importance, it may be a good idea to avoid morale deflating embarrassment at the Vicente Calderón at the hands of the league-leading Culés.

Our Indios weigh in:

Billy: It’s an interesting debate and I won’t complain either way, but personally I’d play a strong team. Firstly, I don’t want Barça winning the league in the Calderón. After all our great work this season, and having competed with them at the top up until the New Year, seeing them running round our home in jubilance after the match would be a bit of a sickener.

Also, we played important games with our first XI just four days before both of last year’s European finals, and still went on to put in flawless performances in each. Five days is more than enough time for us to prepare, and I think keeping the players match fit and in the routine will actually be  more beneficial than giving them a rest.

A good result against Barça would have the confidence flowing ahead of next Friday, and given their similarity in terms of strength to Real Madrid, it could serve as a useful dress rehearsal for us to test ourselves in. Sure, I’d love to see the likes of Óliver, Saúl, Insúa, Pulido and others, but they have the perfect opportunity the following week when we play a lesser opponent in Mallorca at home.

A heavy defeat going into such a big match wouldn’t do us any favours whatsoever, so I  think we should stick to what we know and not risk disrupting the rhythm at this defining stage of the season.

Mais: Mhm, what he said. Though, I wouldn’t mind playing a more defensive game. I’ll admit I still burn at the memory of Barça’s last visit to the Castle. A repeat of that would taint the remainder of my season. I don’t want to give them the satisfaction. I just hope Cholo plays everyone where they perform best.

Robel: Though I hate the prospect of Barça becoming champions at the Calderón and celebrating in front of our eyes, I don’t want to risk our best players’ health and fitness by having them play a tough opponent only five days before the most important game of our season.

We all know how good Madrid are and how motivated they’ll be to win the final. Also, their game against Espanyol is a day earlier than ours against Barça. They’ll be at their best next week, so we have to be too.

Also, we’re not a Bielsa team. I don’t think a defeat would deflate our morale or that Cholo would struggle to motivate the team after a heavy defeat in an irrelevant game. Besides, there’s always a big risk of defeat against Barça, regardless of the team we put out.

Look out for this spot this weekend when we debate whether or not Ujfalusi should be brought back to guard Messi.

  • Chalet

    I think that Robel´s arguments are spot-on.

    Atléti have already secured third place in La Liga – and nothing else matters.
    Barcelona are most probably going to win the league this season anyway.

  • Ty Gambo

    I don’t think they have to be rested that much, but this is the perfect opportunity to try a few players in a “big” game.
    Oliver, Saul and Manquillo could have a great opportunity to show what they’ve really got against one of the best teams around.
    Plus they could catch an injury just as easily during a training session, so don’t let fear get the upper hand.

    Maybe something like this:
    Courtois; Manquillo, Miranda, Godín, Filipe; Gabi, Koke; Adrián, Óliver, Rodríguez; Falcao.

    Potential second half substitutions: Saúl > Cebolla, Insúa > Filipe and Costa > Falcao/Adrian.

  • athenssuper3

    well i would not use for sure for 90 minutes arda. probably he can play at the second half. i would use insua instead of filipe, adrian instead of costa or falcao and why not to see one of our youngsters. i would not pressure the team(give 110%) and risk an injury but i would not go to lose it’s important ti win real or barca

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    you are debating like Barca game is not important, but i think it is .. for these reasons :

    1-as Atleti is back to their place as one of Europe big teams, a game against other big teams like Barca is like a final .. especially if it’s at Calderon

    2-we must prevent Barca from celebrating La Liga title at the Calderon, only Atleti should celebrate there
    (also I wish Real beats Espanyol at Saturday so we don’t make a guard of honor for them)

    3-it’s better to go to the final with a win or a draw against La Liga Champs than going with a defeat

    4-although Barca are not in good shape these days but that does not mean we can beat them with our subs. .. it’s already difficult with our full strength .. I’m afraid if we play the subs. it will be a big score

    5-is there a better recital for the cup final than a game against Barca !

    so I think we should play with our 1st line except 1 sub who should start the game .. I believe everyone knows who is he

    of course : Oliver

    finally : for the people who are worried about injuries
    come on guys .. they are not Sevilla .. they are Barcelona !!

  • starvs

    Ahmad, great post as always, always well reasoned.

  • Lucas

    Well tough one. Atletico always seem to lose to the big two anyway, so… I reckon Atletico should go with a strong team out of respect because Barcelona have looked vulnerable recently but Atletico will want to be 100% for the CDR final so tough. A trophy is more important right now though so I say rest some of the key ones because Barca need the game more anyway so ….

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Thank you starvs, you often comment on my comments although most of the time they are long .. you make me happy

    and by the way, just noticed that in no.5 I wrote “recital”
    I don’t know how that happened … I meant : “rehearsal” !

  • Ahmad ente mn wen?

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    @Farid : I’m from Alexandria, Egypt