After an eventful two-week break, Atlético return to action on Saturday against newly-promoted Almería, with kick-off at the Vicente Calderón set for 16:00 CET on Saturday.
While their players were away on international duty and earning high praise for their performances, the Rojiblancos took advantage of the respite to announce some important deals.
At his press conference on Friday, Colchonero boss Diego Simeone expressed his satisfaction with his club’s off-the-pitch activity.
“Without a doubt, the renewals maintain the direction that we need to carry on being competitive.”
He added: “Continuing with players who feel a part of the club and who will be here for years makes me very happy. It’s very beneficial that players stay to preserve our identity.”
“I’m pleased that new people have arrived. It’ll take time, but they will provide us with more competition in the areas of the pitch where we think we need it.”
Atlético have enjoyed a perfect start to their La Liga campaign so far, with a haul of nine points from their opening three matches, and they impressed with a strong showing in the Supercopa.
One could be forgiven for looking ahead and wondering how much success the Rojiblancos will achieve this season.
However, as usual, Cholo stressed the importance of taking things one step at a time, and gave the stern warning that, “The day we start to think of things further away, we won’t end up well.”
He can count on an almost entirely fit squad on Saturday — only goalkeeper Aranzubia is out after injuring his hand in training. Bounou (aka Bono) has taken his place in the squad.
Also, Miranda suffered a bout of fever, but he was able to train separately on Friday and has been included in the match day selection.
Almería have returned to La Liga this season after a two-year absence. Their first stint in the Spanish top flight ended after four seasons with relegation in 2011.
And three games into their second, the Andalusians have collected a mere two points despite some good performances, giving up leads in the closing minutes on each occasion.
“They’re a promoted opponent, who have played in a great way in their opening games, scoring goals, and with a very interesting offence,” Cholo said of Almería.
“They have youth on the wings, an experienced midfielder in Soriano, Rodri — who’s very dangerous offensively, and Vidal, who often gets into the box either from the right or from the left.”
“They’re a complex team, who defend very well and are capable of adapting to anything. They’ll be a tough opponent and we’ll have to confront them with great intensity.”
Speaking ahead of Saturday’s clash, Almería coach Francisco Javier Rodríguez asserted that his team “can bring something positive from the Calderón.”
He revealed: “There may be some changes in the starting eleven,” but he affirmed that his side’s “playing philosophy won’t change.”
Francisco’s side will be without midfielder Dubarbier, who’s serving a one-match suspension, as well as defenders Torsiglieri and Raúl García.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Bounou
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Giménez, Juanfran, Insúa, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Gabi, Óliver
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Diego Costa, Léo Baptistão
Almería match selection
Goalkeepers: Esteban, Ustari
Defenders: Marcelo Silva, Pellerano, Trujillo, Christian, Rafita, Nélson
Midfielders: Marcos Tébar, Verza, Aleix Vidal, Barbosa, Corona, Suso, Soriano, Azeez
Forwards: Oscar Díaz, Rodri
Referee: José Luis González González
Assistant referees: Aitor Ríos Pérez, Andoni Huerga Cermeño
Fourth official: Javier Iglesias Villanueva