Back from a productive midweek trip to Austria Wien, Atlético welcome Betis, as they look to keep pace with their rivals in La Liga.
Kick-off at the Vicente Calderón is set for 21:00 CET*, on Sunday.
Last week, the Colchoneros saw their historic winning streak come to an end with a narrow defeat away to Espanyol. Though their performance didn’t merit victory, it was unfortunate that the only goal was scored by Courtois, in his own goal.
But Atlético swiftly returned to normal, when they travelled to Austria Wien on Tuesday. They dominated their opponents and scored three times to earn a third straight victory in their UEFA Champions League group.
This Sunday, the Rojiblancos receive Betis, whom they faced four times last season, twice each in La Liga and the Copa del Rey. In this corresponding fixture last season, Atlético managed a narrow 1-0 victory, with substitute Diego Costa scoring the match-winning goal.
Speaking on Saturday, Diego Simeone warned that “Betis are always tough and difficult opponents, with good players and a coach who knows his squad,” and that his team “need to play an intelligent game, with a lot of energy, a lot of energy, competitiveness and humility.”
The Rojiblanco manager continued: “They’re a team who’ve started well. I envisage a difficult game, as we always have against Betis. And with care, against an opponent who especially offers a lot of pace on the wings.”
“We have to look at who won’t play, because they have some absences in defence. There are unpredictable players in one-on-one situations like Vadillo, Cedric and Juanfran.”
Asked about his top goalscorer, Diego Costa, who made a Herculean effort to recover from injury and play on Tuesday, Cholo said: “I appreciate what he does on the pitch and in training. The other day, he played a great game, with a great willingness to make necessary effort to play.”
Léo Baptistão and Aranzubia are still nursing injuries, and Arda joins them after muscular discomfort kept him out of training this week. The Turkish midfielder’s absence means Óliver is set for his first start for the Atlético first team, AS’ Dani Hidalgo reports. Guilavogui, Giménez and Manquillo miss out as well.
Betis boss Pepe Mel praised Atlético in his press conference on Saturday, describing them “the only team who can keep up with the big two.” But he thinks his side can get a result at the Calderón: “I want my team to compete tomorrow. I know that we can win”
The Verdiblancos’ boss ruled out defender Paulão, and midfielders Xavi Torres and Verdú from Sunday’s clash. Because his captain Antonio Amaya is suspended as well, Damien Perquis and Jordi Figueras will pair up in central defence.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Bono
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Alderweireld, Juanfran, Insúa, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Cristian Rodríguez, Gabi, Óliver
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Diego Costa
Betis match selection:
Referee: Juan Martínez Munuera
*Note that Daylight Saving Time in Spain ends on Sunday morning. The clock in the CET zone will retreat one hour.