Match preview: Atlético vs. Espanyol

Opportunity to get back to winning ways for Simeone's men

Lucas celebrates for Espanyol vs Sociedad (pic: rtve)

Lucas celebrates for Espanyol vs Sociedad (pic: rtve)

Atlético Madrid return to action today following a two week international break, ready to banish the memories of our last outing against Valencia and return to winning ways.

This time the Vicente Calderón plays host to a visiting Espanyol team, with kick-off set for a very early 12:00 CET.

Sitting at fifth place in the league, already five points behind Barcelona, Atleti know that a win is absolutely crucial if they are to keep pace with the league leaders.

It’s another team from Barcelona we must contend with this week, and Diego Simeone knows the task at hand. He has allegedly left the team under no illusions as to how hard they should be working to prepare for Espanyol.

“Espanyol are a team that comes to play working very well together – and they play with a similar intensity to ours,” Simeone told the media at his pre-match press conference. “We will have to work hard, and concentrate.”

Thursday afternoon’s training session was called to a halt by Cholo, who was unhappy at the effort and lack of intensity shown by his players, according to Marca.

This was then followed by Simeone informing his players, in no uncertain terms, exactly what he expects from them.

The training session was without both Miranda and Tiago, who trained separately after returning late from international duty.

As a result, Jose Giménez is expected to line up with compatriot Diego Godín in the centre of defence. It will be his first official Atlético match since December 2013.

The defender played 180 minutes for Uruguay against Saudi Arabia and Oman last week.

Tiago will return to the side alongside Gabi, while Mario Suarez will again sit on the bench.

Cristian Ansaldi is expected to start at left-back, and although he only signed on loan from Zenit in the summer, the Argentinian knows what Atleti need to do.

“We will continue to play the kind of football, which laster year led this team to achieve many important goals,” Ansaldi told the official club website.

“We know this match will be another cup final. We want to win, and get back to the winning tradition that Atlético are now used to.”

Atleti are without Alessio Cerci, who trained all week with Atleti, after the forward was sent off against Valencia a fortnight ago for slapping the ball into the back of the net.

Raúl García is likely to partner Mario Mandžukić up front, whilst Antoine Griezmann, who scored for France this week, will have to settle for a place on the bench.

Espanyol are looking to make it two wins in a row after a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Sociedad last time out.

Atletico matchday squad:
Goalkeepers:
Moya, Oblak
Defenders:
Godin, Ansaldi, Gamez, Juanfran, Miranda, Gimenez
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Arda Turan, Gabi, Cristian Rodriguez, Raul Garcia
Forwards:
Griezmann, Mandzukic and Raul Jimenez.


  • Ringo ST Gambo

    no Saul? :/

    Don’t know what to expect from this game, feel like Atleti aren’t in the best of shapes and I haven’t seen any Espanyol game this season. Although beating Sociedad is quite the achievement, even without Griezmann in their ranks.

    Feel like Atleti need a little change in strategy and an increase in guts. We’ve got the players to rock this planet, but so far that hasn’t been the case and the most regular strategy of ours has been an ultra defensive one. Where has the offensive intensity gone that came along with our solid defense the seasons prior to this one?

    Whenever Griezmann came on, he showed he has the talent, the skills, but I’ve also seen him not being in sync with the other players. I hope this changes soon. My guess is we need a more dynamic midfield, at the moment they’re lying too deep, the way I see it, and that weakens the connection with the offensive players, leaving Raul with a lot of running duties. He is capable of running a lot, but the play is just too slow and weak to show real signs of goals coming up.

    Show your diversity, Cholo! I love you but sometimes other forms of guts are necessary as well. And if not, they’re still more entertaining to watch. I don’t want to regret watching a game instead of just checking score every once in a while. The results are great, but I’ll lose interest if the actual game is boring.

    Greetings

  • Saul played for the U21s this week, guess he’s been rested.

  • Ringo ST Gambo

    yoo nick, been a while

    Oh yeah, that’s right. He’s still young so it makes sense he needs some rest after two games in a short time.