The defence of Atlético’s Spanish crown kicks off on Monday evening as Atleti travel the short distance to Vallecas for the third Madrid derby in just under a week.
The last two teams to play in the opening round of La Liga get underway at 22:00 CET.
Atleti go into their season opener with a spring in their step, after coming through 2 matches against eternal rivals Real Madrid without a defeat. There’s also the small matter of the glorious Spanish Super Cup victory at our neighbour’s expense.
The players can’t get caught up in the celebrations though, as the long-road to retaining the Spanish league title begins tonight.
And Atleti must do it without the suspended Diego Simeone – who is banned from the touchline after picking up five yellow cards last season.
Cholo will have to watch from the stands, handing the hard work to German Burgos.
“We’ll try to find the best way to communicate. Germán has the capacity and confidence; it gives me peace of mind that we understand football in the same way. He will sit on the bench and I will see it from another place”, Simeone told the media.
Simeone could still face further action for his misdemeanours on Friday in the Super Cup, with the RFEF meeting on Monday to decide whether or not he should face a longer ban from the sidelines.
Some reports suggest it could be up to seven games. Does Cholo think he is harshly treated?
“I got five yellow cards last season. Two with Real Madrid, two with Barcelona and one with Málaga. Also, I was sent off with Real Madrid and again in the Champions League,” he said in his pre-match press conference.
“Something strange is going on, something not quite right, because it’s always with those teams.”
In terms of the match against Rayo – it was a fixture last season that saw Atleti come away with a 4-2 victory. Two goals from Arda Turan was the stand-out moment.
However our Turkish number 10 will miss the match as he is still recovering from a muscle injury.
Therefore the expectation of goals will fall on our new attacking trio – Mandzukic, Griezmann and Raul Jimenez. All three have been named in the squad to face Rayo.
Simeone gave nothing away in terms of outfield players, and it’s a mystery whether he will go with the same team that started against Real Madrid on Friday.
The exception is Raul Garcia, who is also suspended following his 10th yellow card last season.
Simeone did however, confirm the goalkeeper for our clash with Rayo – “it will be Miguel Ángel Moyà.”
Moya, Mandzukic, Siqueira, Griezmann, Raul Jimenez and Ansaldi could all make their league debuts for Atlético.
Oblak’s wait goes on.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Moya, Oblak
Defenders: Juanfran, Jesus Gamez, Miranda, Godin, Gimenez, Ansaldi and Siqueira.
Midfielders: Gabi, Mario, Tiago, Saul, Koke and Cristian Rodriguez.
Forwards: Griezmann, Raul Jimenez, Mandzukic and Hector.