Match preview: Granada vs. Atlético

Red and whites looking to wrap up third place in end of season clash

Atleti with work to do before end of season

Atleti with work to do before end of season

Atlético Madrid travel to Granada for their final game of the 2014/15 season on Saturday, still needing a point to ensure a top three finish.

The colchoneros are in the driving seat for the final automatic Champions League spot, but face a difficult test against a team fighting for their La Liga survival.

Kick-off in Los Cármenes is set for 18:30 CET.

Barcelona may have stolen Atleti’s title crown in their own backyard last week, but as Simeone has insisted all season, the target from the start has been to finish third.

The Argentine boss surprised many back in July when he declared that Valencia and Sevilla would be our main rivals, but he wasn’t wrong. As we know, Cholo should never be doubted, and going into the last weekend the two are still fighting for a seat on Europe’s top table.

Both teams have pushed last year’s champions all the way in the current campaign, and there is still a chance that each could qualify should Unai Emery’s team defend their Europa League title.

Saturday’s opponents Granada have enjoyed a resurgence under new manager José Ramón Sandoval, and from looking dead and buried a few weeks ago, they now stand a real chance of staying up having won their last three on the bounce.

A draw will do for Atleti, but given the nature of the game and the fact that the home side’s situation could change at any time depending on what happens elsewhere, they will be aiming for three points to steer clear of any late drama.

Early reports suggest that we could see a pairing of Raúl García and Antoine Griezmann take to the field, as both Fernando Torres and Mario Mandzukic miss the out due to injuries sustained in training this week.

Arda Turan is also not fit enough to make the trip, meaning youngster Saúl Ñíguez could come back into the line-up. Cristian Ansaldi and Cani make up the numbers in the squad, having featured sparingly in recent months.

In defence, Miranda may return in place of Jose Giménez, and Tiago is likely to replace Mario Suárez having missed the defeat to Barça through suspension.

Having not won in three and looked in end of season mode at times, Simeone stressed that Atleti would play be fully focused and motivated against the Andalusian strugglers.

“It’s a final, so we have to play with the intensity and aggressiveness we are used to,” he said. “We hope to play an important match that puts us where we have wanted to be since the beginning of the season.”

“Granada are a team that have changed recently coach, and this has brought a lot of hope and enthusiasm to the team. That is what football is, and I’m sure their fans will create a special atmosphere.”

El Graná are yet to drop a single point since Sandoval took the reigns on May 1st, and there is a belief around the club that they will get the result they need and secure a fifth season in La Liga.

There are 81 different outcomes that could affect who ultimately drops into Segunda, although a win would save the home side regardless of other results.

However, they are without important players themselves. Jeison Murillo, Riki and Adrián Colunga are injured, whereas Javi Márquez and Lass Bangoura picked up their fifth yellow cards of the season in last Sunday’s 3-0 win at Real Sociedad.

On-loan Atleti midfielder Rubén Pérez will be available though, as Granada have opted to pay the fee for him to play against his parent club.

Should they get the three points, a win for Valencia some 100 miles east at Almería will see them pip the rojiblancos to third place on head-to-head. Sandoval will also be hoping Los Che can do his side a favour by beating one of their relegation rivals.

After the game, the players’ club duties will be over until the start of pre-season in July, but over half the squad will be in action over the summer with international matches and the Copa América taking place.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak
Defenders: Godín, Siqueira, Ansaldi, Gámez, Juanfran, Miranda, Giménez
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Koke, Raúl García, Gabi, Saúl, Cani
Forwards: Griezmann, Raúl Jiménez

  • AaX

    Lets see how Jimenez would fare today.