Match preview: Atlético vs Rayo

Rojiblancos look to continue their impressive start to the season

Léo Baptistão

Léo Baptistão (EFE)

Between the two legs of the Supercopa against Barcelona, Atlético face their Madrid neighbors, Rayo, on Sunday at the Vicente Calderón. Kick-off will be at 19:00 CET.

This fixture, the Rojiblancos’ first home game of La Liga, comes after an impressive away victory over Sevilla last Sunday, and a dominant midweek display against Barça that merited more than a draw.

Atlético will be looking to continue the strong form they’ve shown in those games, with Diego Costa and David Villa hoping to add to their tallies.

Meanwhile, Thibaut Courtois could keep his first clean sheet if Rayo’s players don’t launch any unstoppable 35-yard missiles, and Juanfran isn’t surprised by any of their forwards.

Colchonero boss Diego Simeone can again count on a fully fit squad after Diego Costa shook off some muscle soreness. This time, he’s left Cebolla Rodríguez, Óliver, Manquillo and Giménez out of his 18-man selection.

Speaking on Saturday, Cholo didn’t rule out that he would make changes to the lineup that he used both against Barça and Sevilla, and analyzed his upcoming opponent.

“There may be some changes. I told the players clearly at the start of the season not to be surprised if a player goes from being in the stands during one game to being a starter in another.”

“We’ll encounter a very strong, very brave team, with much eagerness to keep the ball. They have a lot of pace on the wings and a midfield with players who play well, so we’ll have to be very attentive and very focused.”

In an opening two weeks that include home and away games against Barcelona, and away games against Sevilla and La Real, a home encounter with Rayo might seem relatively easy.

But when they last met their Madrid neighbors earlier this year at Vallecas, Atlético slumped to a hopeless 2-1 away defeat against a fierce opponent.

And in this corresponding fixture last season, they almost saw victory slip from their grasp after the Vallecanos mounted a comeback that just fell short at 4-3.

In both of those games, a certain young Brazilian forward managed to score against Atlético, who took note of his exploits and snapped him up this summer. His name is, of course, Léo Baptistão.

Asked about his feelings on facing his former team, Léo said: “It will be strange to face Rayo, but I’m looking forward to playing against them, and I will enjoy it. I hope Atleti will come out the winners when the game ends.”

Léo is only one of a host of players who have left Rayo after a successful season in which they finished eighth in La Liga. In fact, a mere five players remain of the side that inflicted defeat on Atleti.

Among their replacements is Saúl Ñíguez, the Rojiblancos’ 18-year-old canterano, who’s spending this  season on loan at Vallecas to gain first-team experience.

Saúl, believed to be one of the most talented teenagers coming through in Spain right now, starred in Rayo’s impressive 3-0 victory over newly promoted Elche on Monday.

Speaking earlier this week, Saúl called Sunday’s game “beautiful and special” but “difficult, because Atlético are a great team with great players,” while confirming that he would celebrate if he scored at the Vicente Calderón.

Lining up alongside him could be former Atlético B winger Alberto Perea, one of the goalscorers against Elche, and will be forward Alberto Bueno, who bagged a brace in that game.

Atlético match selection

Goalkeepers: Aranzubia, Courtois
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luís, Juanfran, Insúa, Miranda, Demichelis
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda Turan
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Diego Costa, Baptistão

Referee: Ignacio Iglesias Villanueva


  • Ahmad Hossainy

    as much as I hate Real, I love and respect Rayo ..
    They are the nice, cool and brave neighbors

    I think Simeone will make some rotations today, and this is my expected XI:

    Courtois
    Juanfran-Miranda-Demichelis-Filipe
    Gabi-Tiago
    Arda-Koke-Adrian
    Villa

  • kris

    We will probably have a low scoring game tomorrow.. I think we should be able to win 1-0 or 2-0.. I agree with Ahmad’s XI. That seems pretty nice.. So psyched to be able to watch Saul play today… Come on Atleti..

  • kris

    But,, I think Leo will start in place for Arda.. Arda needs to be rested..,, Koke as well,, but he will probably play 60 minutes before being subbed off. I have no idea why Oliver and Cebolla weren’t called up..

  • pantic#10

    My XI:
    Curtois
    Juanfran-Godin-DeMichelis-Insua
    Gabi-Tiago
    Adrian-RG8-Leo
    Villa

    we win 3-1 or 3-2
    gol by Adrian, RG8 and Demichelis!!

  • kris

    GOOOOOLL DE RAUL GARCIA.. WHAT A CHEEKY HEADER!! AND WHAT GREAT PRECISION FROM GABI WITH THAT CORNER!! COME ON ATLETI!!!

  • pantic#10

    Yeah, i knew it. Raul Garcia!!!

  • kris

    GOOOLL DE DIEGO COSTA!! COME ON ATLETI!! TIED AT TOP GOALSCORER OF THE SPANISH PRIMERA DIVISION ATM.. COME ON ATLETI!!

  • kris

    THIS IS WHAT I HATE ABOUT RAUL GARCIA!! FOR GOD’S SAKE, YOU ARE PLAYING AS A WINGER.. STOP GETTING AHEAD OF VILLA AND COSTA!!!

  • kris

    MY GOD DIEGO COSTA!! I LOVE YOU!! WHAT AN ASSIST MAN!!DIEGO COSTA IS PLAYING HIS BEST FOOTBALL RIGHT NOW!! THANK YOU SIMEONE FOR BRINGING THE BEAST IN COSTA.. AND ARDA… GREAT GOLAZOO FOR YOU TOO!!BUT WE HAVE TO BE CAREFUL BETTER NOT CONCEDE LATE TODAY LIKE LAST TIME!! COME ON ATLETI!! FORZA ATLETI SIEMPRE!!

  • pantic#10

    absolutely fantastic amazing gol by Arda, Great Villa, Great Diego Costa! what a start!

  • kris

    MY GOD!!! HOW DOES DIEGO COSTA DO THAT?? DAYUMM.. HIS PACE THOUGH… IF ONLY HE HAD CONVERTED THAT.. MY GOD!! GREAT GREAT GREAT FOOTBALLER DIEGO COSTA!! AND GREAT ATMOSPHERE AT THE CALDERON SO FAR!! AWESOME MATCH!! COME ON ATLETI!!

  • pantic#10

    yeah i’m super thrilled too 😉 great atmosphere.
    45 minutes of great football, intense and all the team worked together perfectly

  • pantic#10

    Tiago! happy for him, was very unlucky last season.

  • kris

    We are killing Rayo’s “offside trap” with our amazing football.. Great job Atleti..

  • pantic#10

    C’mon Adrian. you have 25 minutes to prove your quality 😉

  • kris

    UYYY,,,, VILLA HIT THE POST!! BUT THAT RUN FROM BAPTISTAO THOUGH!! SO FAST!!

  • kris

    Raul Garcia nets it one more time..

  • colchonero in sf

    Raul Goalcia!!! yes he doesn’t play necessarily well at times but that man has a knack for scoring!!

    Can we give him some love??

  • kris

    Absolutely sensational performance from our team today.. Especially, arguably Atleti’s best player… Diego Costa… Diego Costa is just fantastic..

  • Chewie

    Agreed, RG totally deserves some love tonight. I expect him to net another 10+ goals this season. And amazing performance from our bearded warrior.

  • pantic#10

    WOW! Siviglia k.o. / Rayo demolished / and now let’s go to Barcelona to win the SuperCopa 😉

  • kris

    I appreciate Raul Garcia,,, but I don’t know why he is always playing out of position..

  • kris

    Guys,, ahha,, as of right now,, two Atleti players are Spanish Primera Division’s top scorers. Raul Garcia and Diego Costa.. Diego Costa at the top.. I expect Costa to be among the top scorers for the entire season.