It’s been a week of heartbreak for Atlético after Los Rojiblancos were cruelly dumped out of the Champions League on Wednesday night. Retaining the league title is a long shot, but still a distant possibility.
Atleti know that they will need to beat Elche and keep their grip on third if there is going to be any joy at the end of the season.
Kick-off at the Vicente Calderón is set for Saturday at 18:00 CEST.
The club will be doing everything they can to lift the mood in the capital on Saturday. It’s the annual ‘Día del Niño’, and over ten thousand children are expected to attend the sold-out game with a family friendly atmosphere.
One absentee, at least from the touchline, will be Diego Simeone, who was sent to the stands in last week’s match against Deportivo. He serves a one match suspension.
Mario Mandzukic could possibly sit another league game out through injury, despite playing 90 minutes against Real Madrid in midweek. This gives a chance to Fernando Torres or Raúl Jiménez to make their claim for a starting berth.
Elche are fighting relegation and sit only six points above the drop-zone. Los Ilicitanos will see today’s game as the perfect opportunity to capitilise on a wounded Atleti, however the visitors haven’t taken any points from the Calderón in their last three league visits.
Gabi returns to the side after finishing up his suspension, and he is expected to come straight back into the side to replace Saúl, who came off at half-time on Wednesday.
Our captain is likely to partner Tiago in midfield, as Mario Suárez will miss the game due to an injury.
There are only three home games left this season for Atleti, and Simeone will impress the importance of another three points on his players if they are to guarantee a third place finish at least in the league.
“The objective of the Club is to finish third,” he told the media before the game.
“We are competing in Europe extraordinarily well and I think that having had the negative result hurt us, but at the same time it teaches our rivals that they can not relax against it. They will have to reach minute 178 to finally score against us and that speaks well of Atlético.”
“I’m proud of the team’s effort and consider that everything helps in our daily growth. We’ve changed 10 players this season and the team is competing in the same way.”
Speaking of the change of players, both Cani and Ansaldi miss out on a place in the Atlético squad for the game, and both loanees are running out of time to make a mark in their short careers in red and white.
Atlético Madrid squad list:
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak.
Defenders: Juanfran, Gámez, Godín, Miranda, Giménez, Siqueira.
Midfielders: Gabi, Tiago, Saúl, Koke, Arda Turan, Raúl García,
Forwards: Griezmann, Mandzukic, Fernando Torres, Raúl Jiménez.