Atletico return to league action this week with a visit from Celta, keen to gain some consistency in results after a topsy-turvy start to the season.
Kick-off at the Vicente Calderon is set for 20:00 CET on Saturday evening.
With magnificent wins over Real Madrid in both the Spanish Super Cup and last week in the league, Atletico fans could be forgiven for thinking we have enjoyed an excellent start to their title defence.
However in reality, these big victories have added gloss to what has been a poor start – with a loss to Olympiacos, a drab draw with Rayo on the opening day and an unconvicing win against Eibar the low points.
Los Colchoneros will be looking to bounce back after the loss in Greece, but will be without the spearhead to their attack, with Mario Mandzukic ruled out through a facial injury.
The Croation took an elbow to the face from Kasami in the opening stages of our match with Olympiacos, and has undergone surgery today at the FREMAP clinic in Majadahonda.
Still missing is Cristian Rodriguez, who is still recovering following an injury sustained on international duty with Uruguay.
Returning to the side should be Miguel Angel Moya, who has had a fantastic start to his career at Atlético.
He was relegated to the bench for Tuesday’s match in Greece, with Jan Oblak starting ahead of the Spaniard. Our €16 million signing only had a single save in 90 minutes, and conceded three goals – failing to capitilise on the opportunity to dislodge Moya.
Expected to replace Mandzukic up front is Raul Jimenez, after 60 minutes against Real Madrid at the Bernabeu last week. He will act as the focal point for the Atleti attack, with Griezmann expected to start following his excellent display as a substitute in Athens.
Koke, despite a bad game for Atleti, still managed to pop up with an assist in midweek. The need for the 3 points has not been lost on him.
“We were a little hurt [after the defeat to Olympiacos],” said our number 6.
“We were eager to start the Champions League with a win, but it could not be. We have another game against Celta on Saturday which we’re looking forward to.”
“We have to be strong at home and win.”
Atleti are still without Simeone, who serves the third match of his latest touchline ban.
It has now been 1,001 days since Diego Simeone took over as Atlético manager, and Koke knows more than most the importance of having Cholo on the sidelines.
“He means everything to me personally. He’s given me the confidence to go out and play matches as I am, eager to win every match. He’s made Atlético grow both in a football sense and personally,” said Koke.
There are no players suspended for either side, while Augusto Fernandez and Oubina should miss the match for Celta through injury.
In the same match last season, Atleti ran out 2-1 winners.
How do you rate our chances?