Match preview: Athletic vs. Atlético

A trip to San Mames searching for first win in four for Atleti

Saúl trains ahead of another start for Atlético (pic: official site)

Saúl trains ahead of another start for Atlético (pic: official site)

Atlético Madrid travel to Bilbao on Sunday to take on Athletic Bilbao, a great rival, and old friend, at San Mamés, looking for their first win in four games.

Kick-off in Basque Country is set for 21:00 CET.

After defeat last time out in the league against Villarreal, Atleti drew a goalless draw in Turin against Juventus, before drawing 2-2 with L’Hospitalet in a crazy Copa del Rey tie on Thursday.

Diego Simeone will be without the two heroes of that game, as both Koke and Mandzukic are suspended for picking up too many yellow cards so far this season.

A big miss for the side, but this will give the opportunity to both Saúl and Griezmann to step in and prove their worth in an important Atlético tie.

“Koke, and Mandzukic are very important to this team,” Simeone said at his pre-match press conference. “With Saúl and Griezmann, we will try to compensate differently, because their skills are different.”

“We’ve got a number of different options. We can play with Griezmann as a centre-forward, to make the most of his speed with a 4-4-2, or we can use Griezmann and Raúl Jiménez floating on the wings. We can even use a 4-3-3. We’ll have to see how we start the game and based on what happens, we could change things around.”

It’s clear that Simeone has faith in the fringe players at Atleti – the ones that haven’t enjoyed a lot of playing time.

“I’m really happy with the guys who haven’t had many minutes. Saúl, once again, will leave the bench and play as a starter. It’s happened several times and this is another opportunity.”

“It’s an important match. One that we face with a good attitude, on a big stage and against a great rival. They have a coach who works his team very well, and great attacking players,” Simeone said.

Lucas and Keita, who featured in the Copa del Rey clash with L’Hospitalet, make the squad to travel to San Mamés, whilst Alessio Cerci and Cristian Ansaldi miss another game through injury.

Griezmann will start up-front, and could be partnered with Raúl Jiménez, however the Mexican didn’t look great against L’Hospitalet on Thursday, and Simeone could well prefer to start him on the bench.

Atlético squad list:
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak
Defenders: Juanfran, Gámez, Godín, Miranda, Giménez, Lucas, Siqueira
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Gabi, Saúl, Cristian Rodríguez, Raúl García, Arda Turan, Keita
Strikers: Griezmann, Raúl Jiménez

  • Randy Ved Jawahir

    My 11 would be
    juanfran – godin – gimenez – siqueira
    Tiago – Gabi
    griezmann – raul garcia – arda

    difficult game to win but we going in with high spirits and coming out victorious
    iAupa Atleti! <3

  • I would start with this line-up too, but El Cholo said in the press conference today that he will start with Saul instead of Jimenez, while he doesn’t need to say that he will stick with Miranda
    so it probably will be like this :
    Juanfran – Godin – Miranda – Siqueira
    Gabi – Tiago – Saul
    Arda – Griezmann – Raul Garcia

    but not necessarily in this 4-3-3 formation, Saul could play on the wing, RG8 could be a number 9 or even Grizi could be a number 9