Match preview: Atlético vs. UD Las Palmas

Atleti start the season with a visit from one of La Liga's newcomers

Simeone is ready for the new season

Simeone is ready for the new season

Atlético Madrid begin the league season with a visit from La Liga newcomers UD Las Palmas on Saturday afternoon.

Kick-off at the Vicente Calderón is set for 20:30.

Atlético’s pre-season performances have been a shining example of how to defend. Simeone’s men kept clean sheets in games against Numancia, Oviedo, Real Sociedad, Cádiz and Real Betis amongst others, and they will be looking to continue the trend in the season opener.

Los rojiblancos will be looking to improve upon the third place finish of last season, in a race that went right to the wire with Valencia. Los Che finished only a single point behind Atleti in fourth place, while the top two of Real Madrid and Barcelona were a considerable distance away.

The lack of goals last season contributed to the failed title defence – Atlético will be hoping that the key additions they have made up front will change this.

Atlético start the season having waved farewell to Mario Mandzukic and Arda Turan amongst others, hoping that the replacements Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco and the trio of Jackson, Vietto and Correa have enough goals in them.

Saturday’s match also marks the first game for quite some time without Miranda in the defensive picture for Atlético – his replacement Savic will watch from the bench as Giménez and Godín receive the nod to start.

Filipe Luis is set to make his Atlético return at left-back, after joining from Chelsea in the summer. Jackson Martinez and Griezmann will start together up front. Óliver will start in the Atlético midfield.

The last time that Atlético and Las Palmas faced each other was in the 2005 Copa del Rey. Mateja Kezman scored the only goal of the game in the 86th minute to hand Atlético the win.

A lot has changed since then for both teams. Only Fernando Torres and Gabi remain in the Atlético side, whilst David Garcia and Nauzet Alemán are the only survivors for Las Palmas. The La Liga newcomers have managed to climb their way up to Spain’s top division, whilst Atleti have gone from strength to strength and won the league title amongst other European honours.

Los Amarillos finished fourth in the Segunda last season, and had to come through the dreaded play-offs to secure La Liga promotion.

Their record on the road was not great, they had only six victories. It is worth nothing that the difference in quality between the top and bottom teams in the Segunda is particularly small compared to La Liga.

They did however manage to beat Celta 2-1 in the Copa del Rey at home, before being knocked out in the return leg in Vigo.

Last season Las Palmas last season was definitely more reliant on their offensive prowess, with Sergio Arajuo a key player in the final third.

Other talented offensive player to keep an eye on is Nauzet Aleman, who has previously played in La Liga for Valladolid, Emmanuel Culio, and of course the ex-Atlético himself, Juan Carlos Valerón, who is still going strong.

The former Sevilla keeper Javi Varas should also be considered a key player for the Canaries as they will be relying more on his talent than that of the individual defenders.

“We are facing one of the top teams in the world,” Paco Herrera, the Las Palmas manager told the media before on Friday. “We have to play without fear. We’re really hoping to score.”

“We have to remain true to our philosophy, and respect every opponent. We need to take each game as it comes, just like Simeone says.”

The Atlético boss had some words to say of his own.

“Returning to the Calderón tonight generates expectations for us – but there is a lot of excitement,” Cholo told the media.

“We have a different team to other years, but we have the same spirit.”

Simeone also confirmed the starting eleven for Saturday’s game at the press conference.

Atlético XI to face Las Palmas:
Oblak, Juanfran, Giménez, Godín, Filipe, Gabi, Koke, Tiago, Óliver, Griezmann, Jackson

  • To me, we need to start out with a bang! Anything less, or our players look like they don’t need to work hard to win (no hustle on the field), and I will be very concerned. This is a regulated team and we should look like a top 3 La Liga team against them. Atleti should score at least 3 goals.

  • x1umadbro1x .

    Keep in mind it’s they’re first La liga match and they will have 4-5 new players in starting line up (Luis,Savic maybe, Carrasco, Oliver Torres, Martinez and Vietto – depends on formation…)

  • It’s almost a shame we have so many top strikers for this season. I’m really excited about Vietto and Jackson, plus I love Fernando Torres and Griezmann!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    From what I have seen in the preseason, those are the perfect 11 for me, but I’m more concerned about the 7 on the bench, who will not make the list ?!
    Moya, Gamez & Savic must be on the bench every game (unless if they started), so at least 2 of Torres, Raul, Saul, Vietto, Carrasco & Correa will not make it to the bench tomorrow .
    Simeone will have to deal with this every week, and what about the 19-year-old Lucas who needs more minutes than anybody else in order to grow ?!

    Simeone said in several occasions that he will rotate this season, in one interview with Javier Diaz few days ago he said :
    “In this Atlético, don’t be too surprised to see players sit on the stands one week then feature in the starting XI the next, or go from the stands to the bench, or from the pitch to the bench”
    And according to Javier Matallanas -one of the most respected sports journalists in Spain who is very close to many sports figures, including Simeone- El Cholo himself was the one who asked the club for a wide squad, and that he felt that Valencia & Sevilla had advantage over Atelti in that aspect last season .

    But talking is easy, while action is very difficult, Simeone has never been in such situation before, in every season he had 3 or 4 players who were much less than their teammates :
    Cata Diaz, Domingo Cisma, Jorge Pulido & Emre in 2012-13, Insua, Aranzubia, Leo & Toby in 2013-14, last season there was Cerci & Jimenez who didn’t convince him either we agreed with him or not, and for several seasons he had Adrian, Cebolla & Mario who had their ups but also had too many downs, and now all three of them have left .

    This big squad full of great players in all positions is a gift if you used it right, but if not, it could be a curse .
    ROTATION is the key word this season, Simeone said he will do it, but will he keep his word, and if he did keep it, can he do it right ?!
    Let’s hope so .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    For me : at least 5 goals .
    That what we lacked last season, we couldn’t score many goals against teams from middle and bottom of the table at the Calderon, and sometimes we couldn’t score at all, unlike the last 3 seasons when we used to score 5, 6 and 7 in one game .

    The biggest score we achieved last season was 4-0, twice .
    But wasn’t against weak teams, strangely enough, was against 2 of the top 5 :
    Real Madrid & Sevilla !

  • Kris

    Holy shit! Look at that bench that you mentioned, and you still have to exclude two from there. All of them great talents and players. I don’t recall the last time we have had such a crazy good bench. The competition for the team is great, but as you said, if not used correctly, the squad can break apart.

  • Javi

    Hi everyone. Hope you are enjoying the summer. It gets better tomorrow. I think we are going to be fine by having too many players; we lacked that before and some of the subs were not that dependable. So having an excess of players in all categories will be good. We will have fresh legs for every game; I love it and will be very excited to see Cholo incorporate all of them into different combinations.

  • Kris

    Carrasco, Gamez, and Lucas missing from the bench. Seems like Siqueira is done with Atleti. Best wishes to him wherever he goes. It’s going to be hard for Simeone this season, look at the quality of players omitted from the bench.