Match preview: Atlético vs. Real Madrid

Torres and Frente return to the Calderón in derby cup clash

Torres in his penultimate derby match of first Atleti spell (DigiSport)

Torres in his penultimate derby match of first Atleti spell (DigiSport)

Having closed the gap domestically over the weekend, Atlético are preparing for the first of a Copa del Rey double header against rivals Real Madrid on Wednesday.

With Fernando Torres now available and set to start, the colchoneros will look to avenge last year’s semi-final defeat and reclaim the trophy they won so memorably in 2013.

Kick-off in the capital is set for 21:00 CET.

For a while, it looked as if Real Madrid would come to the Calderón in search of a record equalling 24th win in succession this week, but were stopped in their tracks on Sunday as Valencia beat them 2-1.

Prior to that, the last time they had failed to claim the three points was against Atleti back in early September.

However, now the gap between ourselves and los Blancos is down to just the one point (albeit having played a game more), some are suggesting that Simeone may not prioritise the cup this year – especially as Barcelona are likely to await the winners in the net round.

Arda Turan and Mario Mandžukić – match-winners in our two derby triumphs so far this season – were both given rest on Monday while the rest of the team trained, as were Tiago and Guilherme Siqueira, although both came in voluntarily to work in the gym.

Cristian Rodríguez, Cristian Ansaldi and João Miranda are also all making their way back to full fitness following recent injuries, none of whom make the squad.

At the back, the suggestions are that we could see Juanfran swift from right to left to accommodate Jesús Gámez, and Jan Oblak is also set to start in goal ahead of Miguel Ángel Moyá.

In his pre-match press conference, Cholo confirmed that a certain returning hero would be in his starting line-up.

“Fernando Torres will start on Wednesday,” he told press. “He is fit, with Milan he was training and he has spent several days with us now, so hopefully he will play well and give us what we need.

“[Torres] comes with great enthusiasm and excitement, a sense of belonging. His signing was something I wanted ever since I arrived three years ago.

“Personally I have great memories of him and we have a great relationship ever since we played together.” In typical manner, the Argentine tactician remained diplomatic when discussing the game itself, paying tribute to Carlo Ancelotti’s team and remaining tight-lipped on his approach.

“I see this Madrid team very well. They played well at Valencia, with lots of intensity after winning the Club World Cup.

“They have a quality coach, and their level allows them to go so many games unbeaten so I expect a very tough match.”

As for our cross-town neighbours, it’s reported that they will play a strong team but also make a few rotations ahead of a potentially very busy few months.

“A usual eleven will play, there could be changes but we are going to field the best team possible. Keylor [Navas] will play in goal in the Copa until the end of our campaign.

“Our approach to the game will be the same as always: we’ll try to play to our philosophy, with intensity and quality. They will play a focused, intense game like us. The team that does its job better out on the field will win.”

One interesting pre-match footnote comes from Frente Atlético, who of course were excluded from the Calderón following violence with other ultras groups back in November.

A statement released on Tuesday confirmed that those allowed into the stadium will be offering their support for this game only, having spent the last few matches in silence in protest of the ban.

However, their stance remains the same and will continue until further notice, with the debate and apparent division between supporters regarding Frente looking set to ramble on.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak
Defenders: Godín, Siqueira, Gámez, Juanfran, Giménez, Lucas
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Koke, Griezmann, Raúl García, Arda, Gabi, Saúl
Forwards: Mandžukić, Raúl Jiménez, Torres

  • *I don’t know where the suggestions of Juanfran playing on the left came from, did Simeone test him in that position on the training or what ?!
    But I do know that in the only game he played in that position he didn’t do well, it was the 0-2 loss at Almeria last season
    I’d rather have the shaky Siqueira, and I wouldn’t mind if Gamez played on the right and Juanfran had some rest, which he really needs, of course the cup is important for me, beside, if we didn’t knock out RM nobody will, BUT La Liga is still our priority, not just to try to win the title, but even the 3rd & 4th places look very difficult with the race being too tight this season
    The gap between Celta (9th) and Malaga (7th) is 10 points
    while the gap between Celta and Cordoba (18th) is just 6 points
    too many weak teams, and the top 5 or top 6 will collect a lot of points

    *This could be the last chance for Mario Suarez

    *El Frente need to stop acting like they are the victims, if I remember correctly, they are the ones who killed somebody .. “this game, and this game only” .. oh please, not just this game, we need you, we don’t know how to sing !

    Atletico is above anybody .

  • Some of the starters are surprising to me, but obviously Simeone is resting his players now that he has depth on the bench. The switching of some of the players may not be what RM has been training for and give Atleti an edge. Or it will be disastrous. We will find out soon enough.

  • BlasiusMagnus

    cani is arriving on loan from villarreal.

  • Chewie

    If it was a league game, I would say we would lose as we always do when given a chance to top the table. But in the Cup everything is possible. We’ll see who wants it more.

  • That’s a weird deal for Villarreal, Cani is an important player for them, maybe he didn’t play many minutes in la Liga this season, but he played 5 games in Europa League and scored twice, and they are still alive in it and in the cup and they are fighting for a European spot in La Liga, with only 3 points from CL spots
    so, letting him go in the middle of the season and on loan where they won’t receive a worthy amount of money just doesn’t make any sense !

  • ringo stg

    I’d actually give us a bigger shot in the league
    To at least draw

    Now it depends on how hard they’re willing to work and how much experimentation is thrown in the bowl

  • ringo

    Maybe it was part of the Óliver deal a year ago that we would have an option this year on Cani

  • There are some changes, but it doesn’t mean it won’t be a competitive team
    Godin & Gimenez will definitely play,
    Mario -who played 2013 final- will play next to Gabi
    Arda probably won’t start, but there will be Koke, Grizi & RG8
    And for Mandzukic there is Torres, I don’t know about many of you, but I have a very big faith on him

    The only weak link for me is Siqueira .. but he is not a sub !

  • I don’t think so, usually the options are for young players, and usually they only can be used in the beginning of the season, not in the middle of it

  • Parsa

    I’ve heard saul starting tonight. So it’s not true ?

  • ringo

    Yeah but maybe because he’s not that far from retirement that Villarreal agreed to leave the option open the whole season or especially the second half because Oli was

    It’s hard to think of how this happened

  • well, according to AS, the relationship between Cani and Marcelino hasn’t been so good in the last few months .. maybe that’s it