Atlético will travel to their city neighbours in Vallecas this Sunday for their return match, set for 19:00 CET.
The colchoneros will need all three points to leap-frog Real Madrid again, who won their match 2-0 at the Bernabéu. If the Rojiblancos win this derby, they can retain their title of best Madrid-based team.
Back in August, we beat Rayo 5-0 at home, and are partly responsible for their position in the table, our opponents currently sitting second to last spot. They have collected only 16 points thus far, and have conceded the most goals in the league over 20 games: 47.
Cholo spoke to the press earlier today and told reporters he thinks Rayo will continue to play their attacking style football.
“Last year we had a difficult match in Vallecas and I think we’ll experience a match just like it.”
“They play with a lot of enthusiasm. We will need to work hard.”
While our opponents can focus on just the one weekly match, Atleti have been playing twice a week and, without rotating, players seem somewhat tired. Simeone acknowledged this but also said the players are getting accustomed.
“The team is competitive in each competition we play.”
When Cholo started out at the Calderón, the team played both La Liga and Europa League. Last season we played those two competitions together with the Copa del Rey.
“We’re in January now and still playing three competitions.”
“One of the staff’s objectives is making the players play twice a week so it can become natural habit.”
Diego Costa will return to Vallecas, where he played on loan two seasons ago, and look to end his scoreless drought of 2014. Simeone is not worried about our striker’s ‘less good form’ though.
“Costa worked well the other day. He’s improved over the previous games.”
“We hope the goal will come since it’s important for him and the team and tomorrow will be a good moment.”
Falcao had a similar problem last season. He wasn’t able to find the back of the net either at this stage of the season. But the goal did come, and Falcao continued to score. Diego Costa is still only four goals behind the Golden Ball winner Cristiano Ronaldo.
“So that’s not that bad,” Cholo claimed.
With Juanfran suspended after receiving his fifth yellow card against Sevilla, Simeone will probably place Manquillo at right back. New signing José Sosa might get a chance at well. Who we won’t see are Guilavogui, who is out injured, and neither Giménez nor Mario, who were left out due to tactical reasons.
Saúl Ñiguez, who is on loan from Atleti, is eligible to play the derby and will start for Rayo.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Aranzubia, Courtois
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luís, Alderweireld, Manquillo, Insúa, Miranda
Midfielders: Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Cebolla, Gabi, Óliver, Sosa
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Diego Costa