Penalties were needed for Atleti to make the final of the Trofeo Carranza for a second year running on Friday, beating host side Cádiz on penalties after a goalless draw.
Tomorrow night, the red and whites will attempt to defend the pre-season trophy against newly-promoted Real Betis, who beat Granada in the other semi-final earlier in the day.
Two excellent saves from Miguel Ángel Moyà earned a 4-2 shootout win over the Segunda B outfit, with Raúl García, Fernando Torres, Gabi and Saúl Ñíguez all on target from twelve yards.
Simeone opted to line-up with a team made up almost exclusively of fringe players, with captain Gabi the only real out and out regular in the starting XI.
Reserve defenders Nacho Monsalve and Iván Pérez got a run-out, as did Ghanaian midfielder Thomas Partey who was probably our most impressive performer on the night.
The 22 year-old, who has spent the last two years on successful loan spells with Mallorca and Almería, forced our best opening of the match in the first half, but saw his right footed effort crash back off the post.
Atleti struggled to break down the gaditanos, and had to ride their luck a few times as the home side enjoyed the better of the game’s goalscoring opportunities.
Other than Thomas, nobody really layed down a marker and put forward a case to be one of Cholo’s starters, although Saúl and Correa did provide a little more fluidity in the final third after coming from the bench.
As time ran down, it became increasingly obvious that penalties would be needed to separate the two teams, and like in Japan the other week, it was the capital club who came out on top with four clinical strikes.
With just a week to go now until the big kick-off against Las Palmas, we could well see an indicator of who will be starting that game tomorrow in what is our last game of pre-season.
Having beaten Granada in the last minute, Betis are the other team through to the final, and will be keen to go into their first campaign back in La Liga on a high.
Kick-off against Pepe Mel’s side on Saturday is set for 10.00pm CET.