Atlético faces Montevideo Wanderers tonight at 19:00 GMT+1 in the third place match of the Trofeo Colombino in Huelva.
The Uruguayan side was defeated 2-0 on Tuesday by event hosts Recreativo Huelva. The Rojiblancos suffered their third consecutive pre-season defeat in a 1-0 loss to Sporting Gijón last night.
Atleti will be looking for a morale boosting victory in what will be the last preparation game prior to the UEFA Super Cup tie with Inter on August 27.
After an outstanding start to pre-season competitions, reality began to slowly set in once we began contending for the Trofeos. In our first four matches of the pre-season, against inferior opposition, we mustered a win streak that led to a healthy net goal differential of +10.
But, as our opponents became stronger, we weakened accordingly. In our last three games – all losses – our net goal differential dropped abruptly to -2. The team has lacked cohesiveness; understandably so, given all the newcomers and various tactical experimentations.
Conventional wisdom would suggest that not much should be read into pre-season action though, and manager Quique Sánchez Flores appears to agree with this line of thinking. Coach Quique was very dismissive about last night’s defeat to Sporting.
“It was the classic pre-season encounter. Neither team dominated the game. It was a physical clash, but without much football. We lacked mental freshness, as we were not able to direct the ball with any sense,” the manager said.
“I have the feeling that it was a flat encounter. It was useful for us to try out new combinations with different players and schemes from what we’re accustomed to. They scored a goal on an isolated play,” he continued.
The former right back wanted to assure fans that we shouldn’t be too concerned about the club’s dismal performances of late.
“It’s normal that different combinations are tested during pre-season, there’s no need to be alarmed.
“The pre-season will have nothing to do with the Supercup.”
With regard to the team’s defensive lapses in last weekend’s bout versus Mallorca, particularly in set piece situations, Quique said “what happened to us against Mallorca was an accident. We have improved in that facet of the game and it would be bad for us to succumb to the errors of last year.”
AS reports that Forlán and Godín should receive ample playing time against their Uruguayan compatriots this evening, as well as Fran Mérida, who will be attempting to secure his spot in the starting eleven for the clash with Inter.
Canterano central defender Jorge Pulido is expected to make his pre-season debut, and Ignacio “Nacho” Camacho is likely to get in on the action as well.
Upon the conclusion of today’s consolation game, fans will be left with nothing more than to anxiously await next week’s Super Cup fixture. A victory in Monaco would instantly banish the memories of this lamentable end to our pre-season and would kick-start our 2010-11 campaign on the highest possible note.