Match preview: Atlético vs. Malmö

Scandinavian side in town as Atleti switch focus to Champions League

Malmö next test for Atleti (ESPN)

Malmö next test for Atleti (ESPN)

The Champions League returns on Wednesday, and Atlético can take a big step in their quest to qualify for the last 16 by beating outsiders Malmö in the Vicente Calderón.

With all teams in Group A level on three points after the first couple of match days, neither side can really afford to slip up in the first of a two week double header between the Spanish and Swedish champions.

Kick-off in the capital is set for 20:45 CET.

After a disappointing defeat against Valencia before the International break, Atlético got their league form back on track on Sunday with a comfortable 2-0 win over Espanyol.

Our only other loss of the season came at Olympiacos in the first Champions League group match last month, but having beaten Juventus since then, Simeone and his team will be looking to really push on and lay down a marker in the competition.

However, injuries are starting to pile up, and after scoring the opener at the weekend, Tiago was forced off with a muscle problem early in the second half and has been officially ruled out for tomorrow night.

Joining him on the sidelines yesterday was left-back Cristian Ansaldi, and on Tuesday morning Gabi was deemed not fit for the official match squad, both having suffering injuries during training.

The captain’s absence comes alongside further speculation surrounding his involvement in the Zaragoza/Levante match-fixing scandal of 2011, although according to the club website he has a hamstring discomfort.

Returning to contention after serving a domestic ban is Alessio Cerci, although he will most likely have to wait for his first start for Atleti. MARCA today have tipped both Antoine Griezmann and Saúl Ñíguez to start.

In his press conference, Cholo stressed that concentration within the team is high after reportedly giving them something of a dressing down last week, and spoke highly of our Scandianvian opponents.

“We’re only thinking about the game tomorrow, not about the results of our group rivals or anything else, only getting the win,” he said.

“I admire Malmö as their main virtue is playing as at team, working within various systems and adapting to the coach’s instructions. We will need to be careful as they are dangerous team, as they showed in the last match against Olympiacos.”

The Argentine tactician also confirmed that Miguel Ángel Moyá will continue in goal ahead of Jan Oblak, but did not give much more away in regards to his line-up and how he will replace Gabi and Tiago in midfield.

“You can ask me this in every press conference should you wish, but tomorrow Moyá will start in goal. The rest of the team I will decide after we train, everyone is in with a chance.”

For many, Malmö will be something of an unknown quantity, but they have shown their pedigree already in Europe this season.

Like ourselves, Juventus and Olympiacos they are their nation’s champions, and despite losing the opener in Turin, put the Greek side to the sword a few weeks back, and also qualified in impressive fashion with a comprehensive win against the free-scoring Red Bull Salzburg.

They have the best defence in Sweden and are currently nine points clear at the top of the Allsvenskan, although did suffer defeat at home on Saturday at the hands of Elfsborg.

Striker Marcus Rosenborg is their top scorer, and he has tasted victory over Atlético before, scoring the winner in a 2-1 win for Racing Santander back in 2011.

Alexander Blomqvist, Erik Johansson, Markus Halsti and Filip Helander are listed as injury doubts for the clash, although the latter trio have all made the trip and should be available to manager Åge Hareide.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak
Defenders: Godín, Siqueira, Gámez, Juanfran, Miranda, Giménez
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Koke, Griezmann, Raúl García, Arda, Saúl, Cristian Rodríguez, Cerci
Forwards: Mandžukić, Jiménez

Referee:  Matej Jug (Slovenia)

  • Ringo ST Gambo

    Maybe a 4-3-3 with
    Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Siquera; Koke, Mario, Saúl; Griezmann, Mandžukič and Arda
    could be effective.

    The midfielders played these roles for (youth) Spain, Griezmann for Sociedad and France, Mandžukič at Bayern and Arda can play everywhere pretty much. Then you’d have Jiménez, García, Cebolla and Cerci who are all able to force something in different manners.

    This would bring more connection to the forwards, with Koke and Saúl given more space to do their passing and positioning magic and Griezmann and Arda will be more easily found and have a little more freedom compared to being in a 4-4-2 formation.
    They played a similar formation against Juve, but that was more of a 4-1-4-0-1, the 0 meaning a hard time reaching Mandžukič.

    I expect 4-2-2-2 with Arda or García (or maaaaaybe Koke) benching, though (Mario and Saúl as the double pivot and Griezmann as second striker). Would be okay as well, I think. Most players are used to it.

    Cheers though! To a good, no, great game!
    Aupa Atleti

  • Kris

    I hope Koke is rested. The kid is exhausted. Has played pretty much all games and that’s not right. I also hope Oblak gets a chance. Right time for him to shine instead of throwing him in an away game to Olympiakos.

  • The line up you started your comment with is exactly what I have thought of
    but I’m not sure if it will be in the formation of 4-3-3, it could be 4-3-2-1 or 4-2-3-1
    or it could be 4-1-4-1 with Mario playing in the center, Koke & Arda in front of him, Grizi & Saul on the wings
    but the idea of Mario playing alone in front if our back 4 totally freaks me out, even if the opponent is Malmo !

  • Koke absolutely deserves some rest, but with Gabi & Tiago are out, I don’t think he will get that rest tomorrow, at least not from the start
    Saul is still young and lacks experience, while Mario .. well, is Mario !

  • Kris

    But there’s also Raul Garcia who has been making pretty good tackles as of late. So if you are to play a 4-3-3, you might as well add him on there for extra help as well as some aerial threats for set pieces. It’s absolutely unfair for Koke to be playing every game and ending it as well,which is not helping either as each game he seems more and more exhausted. He’s a very important player in the team and should be treated like one.

  • Chewie

    I think Mario is actually okay in midfield. It’s near the penalty area where he starts to act flakey. However, when alone, he may easily get two yellows and screw up the game, so I wouldn’t risk that.

  • Ringo ST Gambo

    Yeah maybe García could play there instead of Koke, or perhaps even Arda, with Cerci or Cebolla on the wing instead.

    I think Mario is able to get back on his old cdm level, so I’d trust him there, plus Saúl can defend pretty well, as well, so he could aid him.

    Oh well, we’ll see tonight!

  • Ringo ST Gambo

    I don’t know if I’d like Saúl on the wing but it’s possible.

  • AaX

    ________My Best Starting XI :___________The Subs (Depending on Match Situations)

    —————— Moya ——————-

    Juanfran – Miranda – Godin – Siquera

    ————- Mario —- Koke—————____1) Saul in for Mario / Koke

    — Arda ——– R.Garcia —-Griezmann____2) Cerci / Cebolla in for R.Garcia /Griezmann

    —————–Mandzukic—————–_____3) Jimenez in for Mandzukic

    As usual I think El Cholo will start with the strongest and usual starting lineup and formation.available then work from there on taking this match as an Important 3 Points.
    I think he’s not ready yet with 4-3-3 although he may consider a Counter Attacking 4-5-1


  • We don’t just need a win .. we need a big win, to give us confidence, as a team and as individuals, especially the newcomers
    The 4 new attackers have only 6 goals and 1 assist between them
    While Ansaldi & Siqueira have a single assist and an absurdly missed penalty

    Real & Barca are scoring goals for fun, in fives and sixes every week, and sometimes more
    and it’s not just them, but also Chelsea, Man City & Bayern

    There are goals orgies going out there .. and we should have ours, pardon my french !

  • Al Pacino

    This match is great for Mandzukic to get his confidence back. He started off great with a goal that gave us the Supercup, but he kind off faded since.

  • Chewie

    I would add that Ansaldi and Siqueira have a meaningless assist and a crucial missed penalty. I couldn’t agree more about the orgies. Compared to the clubs you mentioned we seem like some religious acolytes resisting the carnal pleasures. I mean, why not have some fun after you’ve scored 2 goals? Hoping for entertainment tonight!