Match preview: Atlético vs. Valencia

Atleti welcome Valencia for a clash of overwhelming importance

Simeone has said all season that Valencia are our main rivals

Simeone has said all season that Valencia are our main rivals

It’s third against fourth at the Vicente Calderón on Sunday evening, as Atlético welcome an in-form Valencia side, who can boast six wins from their last seven in their pursuit of the last automatic Champions League place.

Atleti will know that anything but a win will put a serious dent in the defence of their championship crown. Kick-off in Madrid is set for 21:00 CET.

Diego Simeone has said all season that our rivals are the clubs fighting us for third. Villarreal, Sevilla and Valencia. And with Los Che only a point behind us in the league, it looks like he may have been right to be cautious.

However the race for the title is still on, regardless of what you read elsewhere. Real Madrid, top of the table and leading Atleti by seven points, lost to Athletic at San Mames on Saturday afternoon, meaning that a win over Valencia for Atleti will see them go within four points of their eternal rivals.

Even if Barcelona beat Rayo tomorrow, there may still only be a five-point gap between Atleti and the top. With El Clasico on the horizon, that isn’t a bad position to be in.

A victory over tomorrow’s visitors is very far from assured though, and Atleti will have to be wary going into the match. The last time these two squared up, Atleti were 3-0 down inside 15 minutes.

“This is not just another match,” Simeone told the press at his pre-match press conference. “We are both rivals competing for third place. This is a different type of match.”

“We said this at the beginning of the season. Both Sevilla and Valencia are going to compete with us for the important third and fourth positions. Valencia have improved massively since last year. They are an important team with a lot of experienced players. They attack dangerously and score from midfield. Not only that, but they’ve won four in a row,” Cholo added.

Atlético have a good record of their own, and they are currently undefeated in 32 of their last 33 home games in La Liga. It’s time for Fortress Calderón to play its part again.

“Our aim is to go out and take the season game by game, trying to win, and perform well,” Simeone finished.

It’s mixed news for Atlético in terms of the players available. Saúl is still absent following his kidney injury against Leverkusen, whilst both Miranda and Antoine Griezmann will miss the game through suspension, after picking up their fifth booking of the season against Sevilla last weekend. With Griezmann out, what of his dynamic partner, Mario Mandzukic?

“We need people who understand that nobody is more important than the team,” said Simeone, after he opted to throw Fernando Torres into the mix last week. Rumours have surfaced that Cholo is unhappy with the Croatian.

“Mandzukic is very important to us,” Simeone said. “He is a player who creates a lot of dangerous situations, be it by drawing fouls or supporting the players who come forward. He’s a critical player for our team.”

“We are evaluating who will start, because we can play with Mandzukic and Torres, Torres and Raúl or even Raúl and Mandzukic. These are all possibilities.”

There is also a strong possibility that Giménez will make his return to the starting eleven, with Miranda suspended. Also coming back into the side is Siqueira, who has fully recovered from the injury he picked up against Bayer Leverkusen.

Koke also looks set to make his first start since the 4-0 win over Real Madrid last month.

Last season’s tie at the Vicente Calderón ended in a 3-0 win for Atleti. Let us pray for a repeat performance.

Atlético squad list:
Moyá and Oblak.
Defenders: Siqueira, Ansaldi, Giménez, Godín, Lucas, Juanfran and Jesús Gámez.
Midfielders: Koke, Arda, Raúl García, Mario Suárez, Gabi, Cani and Tiago.
Forwards: Raúl Jiménez, Mandzukic and Torres.

Form guide (last six in the league)
Atlético – WWWLWD
Valencia – WLWWWW

  • tohaju thomas

    why Ansaldi is not playing even he in the squad for the last 3 matches ?

  • Barca will play against Rayo, not Elche

    And I talked about “Simeone not happy with Mandzu” carp in the previous post, it’s the usual war against Atleti from Madridista press .. good thing that Cholo and his players don’t read sports paper very often as he said few weeks ago

  • We don’t just need to win, we need to win at least 2-0 to win the head-to-head tie after losing 1-3 in Mestalla
    We should secure the 3rd position with points, and I even believe that we still have a chance to win the title, but we need to win the H2H vs Valencia just in case things didn’t go well, because the problem with H2H as a tie breaker instead of goal average is that when you lose it you lose it, you can’t never get it back

    We shouldn’t have been in this situation,
    We do have a big number of points, but I believe in relativity, and when the 5th & the 4th also get many points, and when Madrid & Barca reach 100 points in some seasons, it doesn’t just mean (or even doesn’t necessary mean) that they are strong teams, but it also means that the other teams are too weak
    (neither Madrid nor Barca won the CL when they reached 100 pts in La Liga)
    So, 54 pts in 25 games in La Liga aren’t too much, especially that 6 of them came against RM, which means that we dropped too many easy points

    Loosing some key players is no excuse, because their replacements were very good, Moya’s numbers are better than Courtois’, Mandzukic’s numbers are the same as Costa’s last season (and better than his numbers with Chelsea) while Griezmann’s numbers are better than Villa, Adrian & Sosa together

    And the time they needed to adapt is no excuse either, because in the first month we beat Madrid twice and drew once, and in the second month we thrashed Sevilla and beat Juventus, and few weeks later, Mandzukic scored the 2nd hat-trick in Atleti’s history in UCL

    Some mistakes have been made, and Cholo was responsible for them, and me and some other people have talked about them, and I could summarize them in 3 points :

    1- Insisting on the players he “trust” no mater how bad they play, and ignoring the substitutes even if they proved themselves in the best way, like playing great games in the WC against teams as big as Italy & England

    2-His betrayal to his own principle, partido a partido
    It was very obvious that some games were more important to him than other games, it seemed that beating RM is his objective this season, we played those games with much more intensity than the games against Celta for example

    3- Lack of rotation and lack of order which made us suffer from many absences due to injuries & suspensions
    The one who is supposed to keep the order started the season by slapping the 4th ref on the back of his head and receiving an 8-match ban plus one more game in La Liga and another in UCL from last season

    But he still can fix this, and we all still trust him, this game could be the turning point, it could put us back on the right way, which is competing for the title, not for the 3rd and 4th place as Cholo keeps repeating, and I hope it’s just mind games like he did last season, because if it is not and he really believes in what he’s saying, then this is a much bigger problem than all of the above .

    Note :
    To the people who believe that Atletico Madrid are just a small team like Malaga, Villarreal & Sevilla and they can never live without Simeone who made them champions just by himself and that we will be in his debt for the end of the time and we should never criticize him, please, don’t bother to reply, you have made your point very clearly .

    Simeone is a very great coach in a very big club, and I wish they stay together for too many years

    Aupa Atleti .

  • Chewie

    It crazy how even Real and Barca who packed their ranks with more great players keep giving us the opportunity to take the league or at least stay in the race, even after all the changes in our squad. I strongly believe that the Valencia game is the deciding game in many ways, so Simeone absolutely must prepare the team properly. 2-0 or 3-1 or 5-2 would be a great score indeed.

  • Oops, good spot. My bad. Was even watching the Elche game at the time!

  • AaX

    In this game I think the key is the sharpness of our defence because Valencia’s attack has drastically improved and in the ascend. Our attack should then have its way. And it’s more of a ‘mind game’ by Simeone more towards the team rather than for others for he knows much more about the general ‘psychology of the team and the club’ mostly than others by experience. So I believe he knows the teams capibilities of challenging for the title is stronger than defending it. Anyways lets hope for the best as the incentive right now is closing ourselves right up to the league leaders by capitalizing on the current opportunity. Torres could be key for tonight. Forza Atleti P E A C E

  • AndersAT

    I think we should take a pause and think about the great improvement of the Spanish league these years. It is wonderful that we have gone from a two-horse race to a three- or four horse race. Valencia could actually with a good run of games really upset the top three. An it is great to see mid table teams like Villarreal, celta vigo, athletic, sevilla etc. fighting the top teams and earning points. I remember the days where the only interesting Real and Barca games where the clasicos that essentially decided the league. Of course i hope for a great win today, but no matter what i really enjoy the spanish league this year.


    …this forum has gone to crap, I had to stop reading it. The fans here are obviously frustrated and have lost their minds. Fickle children..

  • If you didn’t like my preview, you could have just said… 🙂