Match preview: Atlético vs. Levante

A packed Vicente Calderón plays host to last season's party poopers

The title party was well and truly spoiled last time we played

The title party was well and truly spoiled last time we played

It’s a return to league action for Atlético after a well-deserved winter break, and they will be looking to continue the good form shown against Athletic with a win over Levante at the Vicente Calderón on Saturday.

It all kicks off in the capital at 16:00 CET.

The last time we played Levante was in May 2014 on match day 38. The Valencian side almost derailed our title chances, but Atleti managed to claim the title with two draws in their remaining two games.

This time around it’s a different story. We’re at home, and sit third in the league and four points off of Real Madrid in top spot. Levante are having a miserable season so far, and sit only two points above the relegation zone.

Atleti will want more of the same on Saturday, after they confidently dispatched Athletic thanks to an Antoine Griezmann hat-trick last time out. This was after a string of disappointing performances against L’Hospitalet, Villarreal and Juventus.

Simeone knows it’s important that the form carries over into the new year, especially as this game is the last before a Real Madrid-Barcelona-Real Madrid sandwich in the copa and the league.

“We had a fantastic second half in Bilbao, the team responded brilliantly to going a goal down,” he told the media at his pre-match press conference.

“We need to start strong tomorrow against a difficult team. Levante is a tough team. We have a lot of respect for them. We need to approach the match like the second of the Bilbao game, if we hope to make it a good game for us.”

A day before a sold-out presentation to welcome back a club hero, Fernando Torres, Cholo is expecting a big crowd.

“It’s going to be a packed stadium for the match with a lot of enthusiasm. We hope to remain strong at home, after such a good year last year. We hope the fans are going to be there, because we need them.”

Something else Atleti need is their midfield playmaker Arda Turan, and Simeone confirmed that the Turk will play despite missing training this week. We can expect a starring role from Arda, after he appeared on the Turkish edition of ‘The Voice’ this week.

Players that Simeone will have to do without are Ansaldi and Miranda, who have both been ruled out, despite looking like they could be fit to play. It looks like Godín will again get to play alongside his compatriot José Giménez.

And despite Torres homecoming now official, the player isn’t available as the Italian transfer market doesn’t open until Monday.

It’s also worth noting that should Gabi or Arda pick up a yellow card on Saturday, they will automatically miss the match away against Barcelona next weekend.

As for Levante, they are without the suspended David Navarro, whilst Héctor Rodas misses out through injury.

Atlético squad:
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak
Defenders: Godín, Siqueira, Gámez, Juanfran, Giménez, Lucas
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Arda, Gabi, Saúl
Forwards: Griezmann, Mandzukic, Raúl Jiménez

Form guide (last six in the league)
Atlético – LWWWLW
Levante – DWLDDD

  • Maybe I can understand why Gabi gets a lot of yellow cards, although he could get less (he has 84 yellows, 4th in all Atleti history, above the legendary Arteche, a center back who played 183 more games for Atleti than him !)
    BUT Arda really should try to not get so much yellows !

    A new year, let’s start it with some sense, Cholo
    Arda – Koke – Griezmann behind Mandzukic .. and this is coming from one of the biggest fans of Raul Garcia !

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    I’m really interested to see if cholo learned anything over those previous games mentioned, especially seeing what happened with griezmann against athletic. No excuses the guy should start

  • AndersAT

    I too love Raul Garcia, but i don’t see him as a starter in these games, especially now when Torres has returned. I think he should start when we rely more on set pieces and hard work, like against Barca and Real and perhaps in CL, and as a substitute in other games. Furthermore i would like Saul in the central midfield.

  • Kris

    Yup. He’s starting finally.

  • Kris

    This is why Griezmann should be starting. So good from coming from the back because of his pace. Finally a nice cross by Siqueira as well.

  • Agree! He can’t be a reserve anymore.
    It wasn’t exactly a good cross from Siqueira. The ball was deflected and then went to Griezmann. 😀

    Tiago is also playing enormously.