Atlético journey east to face Espanyol on Saturday, with kick-off at the Cornellà-El Prat set for 22:00 CET.
The Rojiblancos are currently enjoying their best ever start to a season. They’ve won all of their eight matches in La Liga and they only trail leaders Barcelona on account of an inferior goal difference.
Though his men have performed very well so far, Diego Simeone refuses to get carried away. Speaking ahead of Saturday’s encounter, he emphasized that “the only thing that matters to us is the game and the opponents.”
And while his side have been showered with plaudits from the press, the Colchonero boss warned that “if we don’t play a good match tomorrow against Espanyol, [the press] will certainly talk more about that than anything else.”
Cholo described his upcoming opponents, who occupy eighth place in La Liga and their manager Javier Aguirre, as “difficult opponents, who play similarly to us and with a manager who has managed to turn his team around.”
A number of Atléticos were called to duty by their countries during the international break, including Godín and Arda. While their fortunes were mixed, Simeone confirmed that “they’ve returned well, one happier than the other, because he has the possibility to go to the World Cup.”
He added some words of encouragement for Arda, assuring the no. 10 of “all the good that we can give him at the club to play a great season and continue to demonstrate that he’s a player who deserves to go to a World Cup.”
Adrián has recuperated from a broken cheekbone and returns to the match selection after a month’s absence. Raúl García and Gabi join him after making lightning recoveries from an ankle sprain and a knee injury respectively.
Meanwhile, Léo Baptistão will be out of action for at least two weeks after spraining his ankle in training, while Aranzubia has injured a finger and Miranda is struggling with muscular problems.
The latter’s absence means summer signing Alderweireld is almost certain to make his Atlético debut. The Belgian defender has had to be patient since coming over from Ajax, though he has featured for his national team, with whom he qualified for the World Cup last week.
At Espanyol, defender Hector Moreno has recovered from injury, but midfield stalwart Víctor Sánchez has picked up a suspension. Familiar faces Capdevila and Simão—and Pizzi if anyone remembers him—are included in manager Aguirre’s selection.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Bono
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Alderweireld, Manquillo, Giménez, Juanfran, Insúa
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Cristian Rodríguez, Gabi
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Diego Costa
Espanyol match selection
Goalkeepers: Germán, Kiko Casilla
Defenders: Raúl Rodríguez, Sidnei, Capdevila, Hector Moreno, Javi López, Fuentes, Colotto
Midfielders: Lanzarote, David López, Simão, Álex, Abraham
Forwards: Thievy, Stuani, Sergio García, Pizzi
Referee: David Fernández Borbalán