Match preview: Atlético vs. Málaga

Final home game could see Atleti claim title with win & Barça tie or loss

Atleti look to secure a season unbeaten at home in La Liga (AFP)

Atleti look to secure a season unbeaten at home in La Liga (AFP)

Though Atlético’s primary focus will be on getting the job done against visitors Málaga, there will no doubt be a lot of scoreboard watching among the Rojiblanco faithful on Sunday.

Six other games will be underway elsewhere when the affair kicks off at 19:00 CET at the Vicente Calderón, including Barcelona’s visit to Elche.

Should Atleti manage to take the three points and secure an undefeated season in league play at ‘Cholo Castle’ and Elche upset the Culés at the Estadio Martínez Valero with a draw or victory, los Rojiblancos would proclaim themselves champions of Spain.

However, a Barcelona victory would set up a fixture seemingly designed by the football gods — one that has always hinted at a predestined importance — a La Liga final at the Camp Nou.

But, before we go on Colchoneros, stop for a moment and think about this: when would we have ever imagined that this season would allow us to dream of a possible Doblete–one that would be the club’s most important ever?

Enjoy it.

Forget about this past week–even though it has felt like an eternity after that sock-to-the-stomach loss against Levante.

The Red and Whites had a bit of a scare on Thursday, when it was reported that leading scorer Diego Costa was a strong doubt for this bout because of a hamstring strain.

‘The Beast of the Manzanares’ was spotted back in training on Saturday though, and even made the match selection, but it remains unclear if he will be available to take part in this fixture.

The club may choose to play it safe given the possible importance of next weekend’s trip to Barcelona and of that upcoming little final in Lisbon.

Málaga are more than relatively safe from relegation in 13th place on the league table. It would take a long series of unfortunate events — that we are feeling way too lazy to process right now — for them to see the drop.

After watching his Real Madrid throw away four points in their previous two games, it’s unlikely Florentino Pérez is feeling very generous this time around when it comes to motivating our opponents with briefcases full of cash.

Nonetheless, don’t in any way expect this clash to be a giveaway from our visitors.

“There’s no pressure, just responsibility,” coach Diego Simeone said.

“This is a wonderful moment. Everyone who works in football wants to get into important situations like this one. Tomorrow, there will be a lot of people in the stadium and that will help us face what is a vital game.”

While most will be minding the results throughout the country to determine whether Sunday will decide who gets to hoist the trophy, ‘Cholo’s’ beautiful brain will be fixated on one thing only.

“I don’t expect anything; all I know is that we need to win,” the Argentine mastermind said.

“For a very long time, our way of playing has been based on collective work and group effort. We have to play without expecting anything, that is the best way to prepare for this moment we are in. The future and destiny will decide what is to come.

“We have to do what has to be done.”

Who wouldn’t follow this guy into a pit of lava if he so commanded?

Simeone told reporters during his pre-game press conference that he had shown his men videos of their pre-season workouts in order to “remind them of the hard work it has taken to get to this situation”.

He continued: “This is a game, and the team that play the best win; but, sooner or later, hard work ends up paying off.

“Things will go more in your favour if you show spirit and desire.”

My man!

Atleti will be without the suspended (10 yellows) Diego Godín, the injured Cebolla Rodríguez and the unpicked Javi Manquillo for this encounter.

With a goal by Koke 20 minutes from time, Atleti defeated Málaga 1-0 at La Rosaleda in their first game of 2014.

Atlético goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois will be celebrating his 22nd birthday on Sunday. All the Belgian wants is a league title, is that so much to ask for?

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Aranzubia, Courtois
Defenders: Filipe Luís, Toby, Giménez, Juanfran, Insua, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Gabi, Diego, Sosa
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Costa

Málaga match selection:
Goalkeepers: Kameni, Willy
Defenders: Weligton, Antunes, Angeleri, Eliseu, Casado
Midfielders: Camacho, Portillo, Duda, Darder
Forwards: Santa Cruz, Iakovenko, Rescaldani, Pawlowski, Amrabat, Samuel, Juanmi


  • Farzad from Iran

    chelsea want to return courtois next year it isnt good news for us if we we wont miss flipe , juanfran , arda , koke and get a player for replacement of costa we will better than this year

  • Yon

    Keylor Navas! Man played a blinder again v Valencia!

  • Jeronamo

    Motivation won’t be a worry today, getting the ball into the back of the net may be tho. Come on guys let’s do this

  • Amr Misir Mukadaffi

    2 former Galatasaray players will prolly play today.. Amrabat + Arda

  • ali_

    im extra nervous

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Actually Martin, there are few “crazy” people who believed very early of the season that we can win the double, some even thought about the triple
    and for those I say : I’m very sorry .. for disbelieving, but not for calling you crazy, because you are !

    I will be one of those who follow the scoreboard of Elche-Barca for these reasons :

    1- Elche haven’t lost a single game in their last 9 games at home (1 game from the first round of La Liga & all their 8 home games in second round) conceding only 2 goals

    2- Barca are still bad, there is something wrong with them, I don’t know what, but they look sad and with no motivation

    3- Elche have a former rojiblanco coach, Fran Escribá, who was Quique Flores’ assistant when we won Europa League & UEFA Super Cup 2010
    and they have a couple of former rojiblanco players, Rubén Pérez & Domingo Cisma
    you can also say that Aaron Níguez has a rojiblanco heart since he is the brother of our canterano Saul
    All of them will try to help Atleti today

    4- if you believe in good omens :
    in 1976-77 season, Atleti were also leading by 3 pts above Barca, who played Elche in the game before the last, and they drew and helped Atleti to win the title
    the exact same thing could happen today

    but we have to win first .. or not !
    even if we drew, we can get a 3rd draw in Camp Nou this season,
    or if we even lost, we can beat Barca at Camp Nou, just like we beat Real at the Bernabeu in the Cup final last season

    but I would love to win the title today, to catch our breath before Lisbon final
    and to have a “pasillo” by Barca players next week

    Grcias Simeone .. without you, none of this would be possible

  • piserakos

    @ahmad… I accept your sorry 😛 Also i’ve read all those staffs and i told again that Elche will give us La Liga! (Next year we can give them 1-2 canteranos on loan to thank them)
    Aupa Atleti!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    yeah Piserakos, you are one of those crazies .. maybe the craziest 😉

  • palestine-atletico

    I am tensed tensed tensed….
    We will win we will win we will win we will win we will win………

  • palestine-atletico

    Officialy villa and RG8 are the starters costa on the bench

  • Atletico9

    So now it’s time. Maybe and hopefully we will win the League to night. Wish all of you Luck. Vamos mi Atleti Y Elche!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    @PALESTINE-ATLETICO Costa is not even on the bench

  • Vlad

    by the way.. at the beggining of the season, someone here said that Costa will score 30+ goals, and everyone laughed at him..

    Who was it?

  • kris

    Villa…… smh:( Come on we believe in you El Guaje!!

  • Atletico9

    Both Atleti and Barca hit the post in the 12 minute.

  • Jelle

    I didn’t see the first 15 min. Did we hit the post?

  • kris

    Such entertaining counters from Atleti. Damn I love this team.

  • kris

    Why did Arda have to dive? That was a great goalscoring opportunity he created right there.

  • Amr Misir Mukadaffi

    Malaga is the Stoke CIty of Spain..

  • kris

    Oh my GOD!! HOW CLOSE WAS THAT!!!

  • BRAD

    I’m stuck mothersdaying with my mom and can’t watch 🙁

  • palestine-atletico

    The players are so bad i feel that the players are soooo afraid!!!!
    We will not win la liga.

  • Atletico9

    We will win! We just need one goal. Keep Calm and believe in cholo.

  • Will

    Come on!!!! Barca is 0-0 and Madrid is losing! I’m with my mom wearing Atleti jersey! I want to be champion today!

  • jeronamo

    As i said… a little worried about our finishing, for a while now we’ve had a large amount of chances in games but haven’t been able to put them away and today is no different. Arda took a silly yellow btw but i believe we can draw some blood in the second half…. i’m actually watching both games at the same time and crowds in both games cheered when the news of Real conceding reached their ears

  • Will

    I think it’s a match for Diego Ribas… Koke is away…

  • kris

    Two positives from this match so far. (1)Villa playing really well. (2)We are creating really entertaining plays.
    Negative from this match: Our Finishing.

  • jeronamo

    Lol @ Will i belive Diego Ribas has been needed since last week to start but cholo is sticking with the usual starters

  • Jelle

    Come on atletico. One goal!!

  • kris

    Horrible mistake. We are down once again.. Oh my god…

  • kris

    I am just saying right now, if we can’t beat THIS Malaga we don’t deserve to be Champions of Spain.

  • Jelle

    Agree

  • kris

    We all are down with hopes now. I am pessimistic about us winning this game now..

  • Atletico9

    Come on Atleti!!!!!
    Barca still 0-0!

  • Will

    Stupid Courtois! Wtf?? But Adrian sub is stupidity also…

  • Atletico9

    We need at least a draw!!!

  • kris

    I can’t even anymore. I am sick..

  • Ursa Major

    wtf… are we at least trying??

  • kris

    These fucking keepers being superman against us. First Navas, then WIlly. FUCKK!!!

  • kris

    YESS!! THANK YOU ALDERWEIRELD!!Really appreciate it.

  • Jelle

    Great Toby! Mistake in defense – then score a goal. One more and were champions

  • Goalllll
    ALderweireld, we back in it 😀

  • Will

    Come ooooon! Atleti or Elche! One goal!

  • kris

    Blew such a great chance. Man… Damn.. FUCK YOU CABALLERO!!! FUCK YOU NAVAS!!

  • Ratchet

    Fucking hell, what a waste of a great chance. Very, very disappointed today.

  • Kolli

    i don’t get it. I DON’T GET IT……

  • Dircil

    C’mon, what the fu** with our defense today! I couldn’t believe we could seize the chance and win the league just 1 round in advance!!

  • jeronamo

    On to the next one

  • Dircil

    soooooooooo disappointed with Villa!

  • Kolli

    Some guys really have to step up, if they want to call them self “spanish champion”

  • ali_

    villa was a fuckin shit again. yes he tried but i hope he wont continue here.

  • Amr Misir Mukadaffi

    Why are they all so happy ? Why are they all shaking friendly hands with Malaga wtf !!!

    Man why did Malaga played for their lives ? Do they really want Barca to get the title ?

  • Atletico9

    So fucking Close! Adrians shot in the 94……. Oh my god.

  • Will

    I’m disappointed with Cholo. It was a clear match for Diego… It’s ok.. Let’s go on the hard way…

  • Silchas

    I see it coming, barca is playing like crap for some weeks now, but next week, they will play the best they can and if atleti loose the player will bei so demoralised that i dont want to think about the UCL-final. If we had one point more, one point, one f*cking point, we would now all celebrating.

  • kris

    I won’t even be mad if we don’t win La Liga because we couldn’t beat a shittyass Malaga team, but I will be mad if Barcelona win it because they don’t deserve it at all. They have played shit throughout the whole season.

  • EC

    well we got the dream last few results we wanted. Real Madrid and Barcelona dropping lots of points, but we could not take our golden chance. 2 frustrating performances against Levante and Malaga 🙁

  • Jeronamo

    Our finishing is to blame once again it’s as simple as that. Atletico do everything the hard ass way so I guess wrapping up la liga is a part of that apparently

  • Atletico9

    Villa should score in the first half and stupid malaga goal! We can draw next week and win the final. Please god! We really needed Costa today!

    Im crying like a Girl if we loose the last match.

  • kris

    I am not disappointed at Cholo though, because he got his substitutions correct again. They all played a great role, Sosa with yet another assist and Diego was phenomenal whenever he had the ball. If Adrian would have scored that goal, he would have been known as an Atleti legend for years to come. Caballero, this motherfucker always plays great against Barcelona, Real, and Atleti. I don’t know what happens to him suddenly he turns into superman. I believe Diego should have come in for Koke, though.

  • palestine-atletico

    Face it guys…. barca will win la liga and real will win champions league its over for us.
    We are sooooooo weak since the game against chelsea. Fuck u schuster fuck u malaga!!!!!!!
    I cant believe it i cant.

  • kris

    I am also pessimistic about our chances after today,, but palestine-atletico, that’s pathetic what you just said. Look at Malaga, they had nothing to play for yet they played for everything. Atleti won’t let Barca win anything next game and we are not weak, if u think so, u best go get a drink of water or something because u seem really mad. If you think, Atleti will let Real what they have been obsessing for years, you are also very drunk.

  • piserakos

    How we could lost this??? We are puppas! Come on Atleti!

  • Ali

    Iam really disappointed with villa and raul Garcia we could have gone 2-0 up at half time but very very poor finishing please God give injury to iniesta cuz he’s the only one who will ruin la liga for us!!!

  • Abdullah Karam

    The players seems very tired! And again Alderwield WTF!
    and courtios was very excited and lose his focos and the lack of experience was there also 🙁 ,, am very sad for today draw cuz it will be hard for us there .. We lost the chance to be the champ today cuz of a mistakes of some players not from the hole team and cholo was amazing again for reading the first half ,, WE WILL WIN THE CHAMPION LEAGUE BUT LA LIGA I HOPE WE WILL TOO ,, Aupa Atleti 🙂
    @Ahmad am very sorry man about what i said before and i apologize :*

  • EC

    We are favourites for la liga. although were not playing great at the moment neither are Barca. why are people so scared of at team that hasn’t beaten us in 5 attempts this year and just drew there last two games against Getafe and elche. if Getafe can get a draw and Valencia can beat them then we sure as hell can. I believe we will get at least a draw at the camp nou.

    the CL final is 50/50

  • AaX

    This is the result Barcelona are waiting for to make them play for a title all out at Camp Nou next week. But Oddly also at the same time just like Atletico, they fail to complete their vital job to get the important points this week and it seems more eminent that the game has always must be as the final Showdown at the Camp Nou since from the First day of kick-off this Season. It’s somehow wierd too as much as how the Atleti’s and the Fans wanted it, that the momentous moment that the league barren is broken and we’d become the La Liga Champion would be when both the Main Key personalities of the Team Diego Godin and Costa were NOT EVEN on the Bench. Seems not just quite Fitting to me……..I DONT KNOW BUT I SENSED THIS ALWAYS IS THE ATLETICO WAY. NO other team would and must Go Through Such Hardship and PENUltimation for them to become Champions. GOD WILLING, We WILL.