The games keep coming for Atlético, and the team will be looking to keep their run going on Wednesday night as they complete the formalities against Sant Andreu in the Copa del Rey.
With a commanding 4-0 lead from the first leg a week ago, now is a chance for some of the fringe players to prove their worth and stake their claim for a place in Simeone’s regular XI.
Kick-off in the Vicente Calderón is set for 19:30 CET.
After Monday’s Champions League draw, and yet another impressive win on Sunday against Valencia in La Liga, the trophy that Atleti won in such superb fashion at the Bernabéu last May has been somewhat overlooked this season.
However, one thing we can be sure about with this team is that they will not be taking the Copa del Rey lightly, and right now will only be focusing on beating Sant Andreu – not Milan or Barcelona.
Ten first team players get the night off, although given the strength of the squad this year, there is no suggestions of a ‘reserve team’ taking to the field, and as we saw against Porto last week, the style and intensity will be exactly the same.
In his press conference, Simeone stressed the importance of the match and not losing concentration, and insisted that the players who do impress when given the chance will get their reward.
The Argentine boss also praised the influence of Raúl García in recent weeks, who despite not starting at the weekend, is one of those rested.
“Putting myself in the place of the guys who are going to play I see it as a great opportunity for them, they can do their talking on the pitch.”
“I never like to give examples but, right now, Raul is a great example. Whether it’s the league, cup or Champions League, when he plays he gives everything and scores goals, and is a lead for the rest in the changing room to follow,” he said.
Three canteranos may also be in line for debut appearances for the first team, including the star of our UEFA Youth League team Hector Hernández.
The 18 year-old has impressed in recent weeks following a spell out with injury, and is joined by Atleti B teammate Isaac ‘Nana’ Asare, on loan from Alcalá. C-team captain Carlos Ramos is also called-up.
Atleti have offered 5,000 cut-price tickets to the city’s unemployed for just €1 each, so will be hoping to draw a good crowd given how the economic downturn has affected attendance in the last few years.
Barring a minor-miracle from Sant Andreu we will go through to face either Valencia or Gimnàstic de Tarragona in the last 16, that tie very much still in the balance at 0-0 after the first leg. The two face off in the Mestalla on Thursday evening as Valencia begin life after Miroslav Djukić, sacked following defeat in the Calderón a few days back.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Aranzubia, Bono
Defenders: Godín, Alderweireld, Manquillo, Giménez, Insúa
Midfielders: Cristian Rodríguez, Gabi, Guilavogui, Óliver, Nana, Carlos
Forwards: Adrián, Léo Baptistão, Hector