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.