Atlético Madrid are searching for league win number six this season on Tuesday evening with a home clash against lowly Osasuna in the Vicente Calderón.
With an 100% record so far and the Madrid derby to come on Saturday, the team are looking to continue their winning run and also continue building confidence, as well as perhaps rest a few players ahead of the weekend.
Kick-off in the Spanish capital is set for 22:00 CET.
Last year, Diego Simeone masterminded Atleti’s best start to a season since the doblete year of 1995-96, but has somehow managed to better that this time round with a resounding five wins from five so far.
In what is just his second full year in charge, the Argentine boss has already swept aside Sevilla, Rayo, Real Sociedad, Almería and Real Valladolid, and again there are suggestions that the red and whites could provide a real threat to the top two.
However, the message from the club again is that it’s a strictly a game-by-game approach, so for now our only focus is on toppling Osasuna and not our eternal rivals in next weekend’s repeat of the Copa del Rey final.
Simeone confirmed in his press conference that we’ll see five changes tomorrow evening from the side that won at Valladolid, meaning valuable rest for a few players ahead of el derbi.
New signing Josuha Guilavogui won’t be one of those coming in though, nor will teenage trio Óliver Torres, Javier Manquillo, who put in a good shift at the weekend, and José Giménez, who all join the injured Adrián in the stands for technical reasons.
Emiliano Insúa is back in the squad and may get a rare appearance, with Daniel Aranzubia for B-team stopper Bono the only other change. Fans will also be hoping for first glimpses of Toby Alderweireld and Léo Baptistão from the start.
In his press conference, Cholo addressed the issue of competing in three important competitions and having to play two matches a week, but remained calm and confident in his workforce.
“Our main challenge for this year is the extra demand of playing in the Champions League,” he said. “It’s tough, but there is no reason for us to move away from what we have been doing.”
“The team know that the effort made to beat Valladolid would not be sufficient if we do not follow it up with this win at home, so we must keep working and progressing.”
Los Rojillos got their season up and running last week by beating Elche, and are now looking to move on and get more points on the board under new manager Javi Gracia.
“Obviously when a new coach comes in it gives chances for players who maybe haven’t played to impress. They have had difficulties and injury problems, but I’m sure their win on Friday has raised the spirit,” said Simeone.
“However, for us there is no better time to be a fan after several wins in a row, and we look forward to having lots of people in the stadium to see the team tomorrow. Hopefully we can move forward together.”
The likes of Roberto Torres, Álvaro Cejudo, Miguel Flaño, Nino and ex-rojiblanco Miguel de las Cuevas will all remain home when Osasuna make the trip south, and Javi Gracia acknowledged the sizable task facing his team when speaking on Monday.
“Atlético defend and fight very well, play a high intensity game and are dangerous especially on set pieces, they will be hard to stop,” he told local media.
“We go with the intention of taking the points at stake, but know this is difficult due to the opponent’s high level.”
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Aranzubia
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Alderweireld, Juanfran, Insúa, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Cristian Rodríguez, Gabi
Forwards: David Villa, Diego Costa, Léo Baptistão