Match preview: Athletic vs. Atlético

Cup semi-final place up for grabs against red hot Athletic

Atleti look to extend their stay in  the King's Cup with another win 
 (mundodeportivo.com)

Atleti look to extend their stay in
the King's Cup with another win
(mundodeportivo.com)

Atlético’s defence of the Copa del Rey final is becoming more and more of a possibility, and we are now just one match away from a possible semi-final next week against last year’s runners-up Real Madrid.

Standing in the way though is Athletic Bilbao – in form, unbeaten in their new home, and only a goal down from the first leg – and the Basques will not go down without a fight.

Kick-off for the Colchoneros’ first visit to the new San Mamés is set for 20:00 CET.

A Diego Godín header was all that could separate Atleti and Athletic in last week’s first leg, and has left Wednesday’s decisive clash in a beautifully poised position for the neutral.

The two red and white striped teams are enjoying excellent seasons and are on course to make Champions League, although the main goal for both, especially for Athletic, given their heartache in 2012, is surely to win a trophy.

Under Ernesto Valverde, Los Leones are fierce and competitive, much more consistent than in recent seasons and particularly tough to beat at home. Barcelona have already failed and Real Madrid will try on Saturday, but should Atleti win tomorrow, we will become the first visiting team to do so San Mamés Barria.

A draw will do, but as we know with Cholo Simeone, the team makes the trip north for nothing less than a victory. Our away form is good too, with just one defeat in our last 26 ventures outside of the Vicente Calderón.

In his press conference, the Argentine analysed the game with caution and in typical style, paid tribute to the transformation of Athletic so far this season.

“Athletic at home are a strong team and can mix it up in attack,” he said.

“The tie right now is 50/50. It will be a tough, tough game but we have the intention of playing our style and hopefully make it through to the next round.”

“Given the history and tradition of Athletic, we expect to be met by a big, passionate crowd, which for any footballer who feels the game, is an extra motivation.”

Squad-wise, the main news from Atlético’s perspective is the long-awaited return of Mario Suárez, absent since late October with knee troubles.

The two-time Spanish International will most likely start from the bench but returns right on time, with fellow midfielders Tiago, Guilavogui, and Óliver Torres, out for a month after suffering a dislocated shoulder at the weekend, all injured in the last week.

Arda Turan has also sustained a knock and remains in Madrid, although the rest of the first team squad do travel.

Valverde names the same squad that went to El Sadar and thrashed rivals Osasuna 5-1 on Sunday, boosted in particular by the presence of Iker Muniain who couldn’t recover quite on time for the first leg.

Having not scored in the capital a week ago, the Athletic boss acknowledged the importance of not allowing Atlético an away goal. Should the visitors find the net, his team would need to find 3 to progress.

“Atlético are effective in this situation, they do not concede many chances and will come for the win,” he told local media.

“1-0 is dangerous for us, but we are enjoying a great moment right now, and with the fans support we can push and score goals.”

On Tuesday, Real Madrid became the first side to qualify for the semi-final having overcome Espanyol, and a first leg date is already set for next Wednesday in the Bernabéu against one of these two teams.

Atlético match selection

Goalkeepers: Aranzubia, Courtois
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Alderweireld, Manquillo, Giménez, Juanfran, Insúa, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Koke, Raúl García, Cristian Rodríguez, Gabi, Sosa
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Diego Costa


  • Kris

    Athletic Club de Bilbao 0-2 Club Atletico de Madrid.

  • Kris

    Aupa Atleti!

  • atletico9

    Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Atletico Madrid – and fuck that. We will going to the next round. we will rest some players so we can beat P***Real Madrid in the semifinals! 🙂

  • Zakaria

    I don’t have a good feeling about this, I am really praying that my hunch is wrong.
    We should attack in Bilbao, I so don’t want to see ATM defending. I love the spirit of Bilbao, and we should have the same and play as if there is no tomorrow.
    Aupa Atleti

  • piserakos

    agree with zakaria

  • farhan

    keep calm and believe in VILLA

  • Dirceu

    we’re not gonna leave San Mames with a draw or a lost. Atletico 2-0 Athletic

  • Vlad

    Cool!! Mario is back!!!

  • jeronamo

    I have no idea how this is gonna go, if it was december then i would say we were gonna win while defending well and scoring goals but so far in january i’ve been one nervous fuck when i watch atleti… But ah well Atleti 2-0 Athletic. i’m hoping we score that top playmaker in this transfer market even tho its not looking like it will happen. I have to go to court tomorrow so i hope Atleti gives me something to smile about this evening so i can take that smile with me tomorrow.

  • ali_

    we have the cl and liga. i would give up the cup.

  • Will

    Maybe Simeone is thinking just like ALI_. Villa and Arda won’t play.

  • Will

    NO!!!! Filipe Luis injured!!!!

  • jeronamo

    I said rotate SMARTLY but noooooooo, now filipe is hurt wtf

  • pantic#10

    f@*k….Filipe looks seriously injured….
    damn…

  • Jeronamo

    Smh now what? How and when will we rotate smartly?

  • Jeronamo

    It’s not even 25 minutes yet and this match has me on damn edge

  • pantic#10

    If Adrian is on the left…and Cebolla is on the left…who the hell is on the right???

  • Jeronamo

    This can’t be good for my health

  • Jeronamo

    Pantic apparently we aren’t playing with anyone on the right

  • pantic#10

    what a dive by Susaeta…

  • Jeronamo

    Oh no wait…. I swe Costa on the right now and rg is at point I think. … wtf is this?

  • pantic#10

    We have only Diego Costa wide on the right

  • Jeronamo

    See*

  • Jeronamo

    Is this the 2013/2014 atleti I’m watching for real? Wtf is this?

  • Will

    We’re defending bravely. But basically, only this.

  • Jeronamo

    We look like a segunda team the way we’re handling this… goal I’m so fucking glad athletic scored

  • Will

    We were having 3 or 4 minutes better. 4 minutes before the break.. :/

  • Will

    Incredible save by Courtois.

  • Adnan Khan

    our players is on offside 90 prosent of the time we attack. we are not playing smartly.

  • pantic#10

    Thibuating!!!
    he did 3 amazing saves.

    Iturraspe!! why is always free?

    We can’t play with Cebolla and Adrian together.

    We could have scored after 30 seconds with Diego Costa…but he missed an easy goal…after that Bilbao everytime.
    Raul Garcia closed to score with a headshot.

  • Will

    Raúl Garcia!!!!!

    Man, the first it should had been goal in the first play! YES!

  • Jeronamo

    Great goal by rg8. We are playing much better this half

  • pantic#10

    RG8.
    fatality!

  • Will

    Who crossed to the goal?

  • Jeronamo

    Looked lije cebolla

  • Jeronamo

    Like*

  • Jeronamo

    I hate this “score a goal and sit back” bullshit

  • Jeronamo

    But where is our first second half sub?

  • Jeronamo

    There it is.. sosa for adrian… I couldn’t agree more

  • Jeronamo

    Costa!!!

  • Will

    YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES YES!!!!!!

    Gabi -> RG8 -> Diego Costa -> GOAL!!!!

    And Diego Costa scored in 2014!!!!

  • Ash

    What a fu*king great goal there !!!!! Diego Costa!!!!!!

  • Ash

    The beast IS back!!

  • Arjit

    To be honest Jernamo, it’s the right thing to do against good teams. I don’t know if you’ve noticed but Athletic is a very good team, they haven’t lost at home against anyboyd this season and need to score two goals to go through. Why would we waste energy attacking? especially with all these recent injuries and hectic schedule. Simone played it perfectly and now we got a great goal on the counter.

  • pantic#10

    “Diego hijo de puta” all the Catredal 🙂
    They love him ahahah

  • Jeronamo

    @Arjit we haven’t only done this against bilbao if you haven’t realised and whether it works or not idt certain teams should be sat back on with one goal up, two goals up tho I would be fine with. Btw bilbao are a good team and that’s exactly why sitting back after one goal could be dangerous

  • Ash

    Yes! We are through! Final awaits…

  • pantic#10

    You know why i loves Atleti? because we don’t give a f*** about tiki taka, joga bonita and stuff….
    we play to score. end of story.
    3, 4 passages and we try to finalize.

    and now our lovely merengues friends 😉

  • Arjit

    @ Jeronamo, oh I understand we do this against others, and yes it’s stupid (I find it frustrating too believe me). However in this game, that’s the perfect thing to do. Win, lose (by one goal), tie, we were already through. No need for the unnecessary risks, especially after getting man handled in the first half. That is the best Athletic Bilbao team I’ve seen in a long time. We had a great second half comeback but that was the toughest first half that we have played this season imo.