Atlético return to the defence of their Spanish crown after the end of the international break, and what could be more testing than a trip across Madrid to face our fiercest rivals.
Kickoff in the latest edition of El Derbi madrileño is at 20:00 CET.
It’s the third time that Atlético have faced off against Real Madrid in the last month, and Simeone’s men will be looking to retain their unbeaten record in the league against los Blancos that stretches back the 2012/13 season.
Returning to the side are both Arda Turan, who missed the start of Atlético’s season through injury, and Raul Garcia, who returns to the team following a suspension, and his senior debut for the Spanish national side.
However, Atleti are still without Diego Simeone, who is sitting out the second match of his four game league suspension for his actions in the Super Cup.
On the topic of the Super Cup triumph, Simeone sees it as a different match completely.
“When you’re starting, at the end of the preseason, you’re in a certain physical condition. It’s the first match. But today – the players are playing at a much higher level than they were,” he said at the pre-match press conference.
“Real Madrid will be strong, intense and fast. They have important players and we have to be able to counter that.
“We are not a violent team, but we are a team who plays with a great intensity. Those were our weapons to make all the other teams respect us. Hopefully, this year we’ll be able to keep the same line of work, because it’s a great way to repeat the success of previous years.”
Simeone has the full squad available to him, with the exception of Cristian Rodriguez, who limped out of Uruguay’s 1-0 win over South Korea in midweek.
The team is back in training and ready to face their bitter rivals, and with more Atleti players in the Spanish national team than previous seasons, it’s something the players talk about.
“Speaking with the Real Madrid players on international duty, it’s a game that everyone is excited about and likes the play,” Juanfran told the media.
“We’re eager to play them. It’s a different match for us, and for them, and every year the rivalry grows more intense and more beautiful.”
With almost a full strength squad for Atleti, it’s unknown if we will see the debut of Alessio Cerci, the deadline-day signing from Torino.
Or we may go all out, and the trident of Mandzukic, Jimenez and Griezmann will make enough appearance from the start.
But with Raul Garcia’s sensational record in the derby, along with his late, late goal against Madrid at the Bernabeu in August, I expect to see the Real Raul from the beginning.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moya, Oblak
Defenders: Juanfran, Miranda, Godin, Siqueira, Ansaldi, Gamez, Gimenez
Midfielders: Mario Suarez, Tiago, Koke, Gabi, Saul, Arda and Cerci
Forwards: Mandzukic, Jimenez, Griezmann and Raul Garcia.