Atlético Madrid travel to Sweden to take on Malmö in Matchday 4 of the Champions League group stages, looking to get their first away points in Europe this season.
Kickoff at the Malmö Stadion is set for 20:45 CET.
It was just a fortnight ago that Atleti found themselves almost out of new ideas in the dressing room at the Vicente Calderón, where it was 0-0 at half-time in the first match against Malmö.
What followed must have been one of the famous Cholo teamtalks because what followed was a fantastic display of patient, passing football. The 5-0 win was also our biggest European victory in 22 years.
Atleti must product a similar performance tonight if they are to qualify from Group A, the group of champions, which has turned out to be a very tight group.
The Swedish champions are unbeaten in their last eight home games in European competition – and they haven’t conceded a goal in any of them.
A win from Atlético would see them remain top of the group, with a tricky away trip to Juventus following a home match against Olympiakos, the only team to have beaten us so far in Europe this season.
Simeone thinks the group will go right to the wire.
“Everything is so tight and so difficult because there are four champions, I wouldn’t rule out anything. Until the last day, this group will be hard-fought. We have to play an important match [against Malmo],” he told the media at his pre-match press conference.
“I don’t think the group will be decided this week.”
Åge Hareide, the coach of Malmö, told the media that Atlético Madrid are the best team to come and play in the Swedish champions stadium this season – praise that Simeone hopes we can live upto.
“We hope to have a good game. We know how Malmö play at home. We know they’re more intense at home, with a more offensive game and very talented players.
We will have to watch for this, and answer in the best possible way,” Simeone finished.
Our captain Gabi was also put in front of the media.
“Malmö of the first half at the Calderón, we struggled to make scoring plays since they closed in a lot. They decreased their physicality in the second half and we took advantage of it,” he said.
“But, we know that Malmö playing at their stadium are very strong, it is difficult to score on them, it’s been a while since anyone has. They are a powerful team and we do not underestimate them.”
Simeone has a full squad available to him after Tiago recovered from injury and travelled with the side. The only exception is Cristian Ansaldi, who is still out and undergoing x-rays back in Madrid.
In his press conference, Simeone gave away no clues as to who could start up-front with Mario Mandzukic.
“Yesterday we did some recovery work for those who played [vs Cordoba] and the others trained well.”
“Now that [Griezmann and Raul Garcia] are well, we’ll see who plays tomorrow. Both can play well in the role, but they can also play together.”
Alessio Cerci will also be looking for his first start for Atlético, following his injury-time goal against Malmö a fortnight ago.
In the other match in the group, Olympiakos travel to Turin to take on Juventus, knowing that a tough away victory will keep them in contention to win the group.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Moyá and Oblak.
Defenders: Jesús Gámez, Juanfran, Miranda, Godín, Giménez and Siqueira.
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Koke, Tiago, Gabi, Saúl, Arda Turan, Cristian Rodríguez and Cerci.
Strikers: Raúl García, Griezmann, Raúl Jiménez and Mandžukić.