Atlético Madrid welcome Barcelona to the Vicente Calderón on Saturday evening for the toughest match of their season so far.
Kick-off on matchday three is set for 20:30 CEST.
It’s an early season clash for two of La Liga’s biggest teams, and an early test for Diego Simeone’s refreshed squad, who promise so much.
Both teams enjoy a 100 per cent record after two games, whilst Atlético impressed last time out in their 3-0 away away from home against Sevilla.
It’s this game against the defending champions that will mean more to Atleti though, as a win against the Blaugrana will help Cholo’s men re-establish themselves as title contenders – something they didn’t manage for the whole of last season.
The international break may have disrupted some of the preparation for Saturday’s match, but Simeone has all of his players available – even Tiago who reported some discomfort in training.
The coach resisted the urge to experiment with his team in the pre-match sesion, with Filipe Luís the only player to come into the training line-up that didn’t start against Sevilla. The Brazilian replaces Jesús Gámez.
Despite having a plethora of new signings on the bench, Cholo looks set to stick with the starting eleven he knows and trusts, with Fernando Torres continuing to start up front with Antoine Griezmann.
This means that Jackson Martínez, Luciano Vietto, Ángel Correa and Yannick Carrasco will all have to settle for a place on the substitute’s bench.
Óliver Torres will continue to start in midfield alongside Koke, Gabi, and Tiago if he is fit.
The talent available in this season’s Atlético squad will make rotation a must, despite Cholo’s resistance to tinker with his team in recent seasons.
With the Champions League returning on Tuesday night – Atlético travel to Istanbul – there will be plenty of matches for every one to play.
Luis Enrique’s men however are missing some important members of the first-team for their visit to Madrid. Dani Alves and Gerard Pique miss out through injury and suspension respectively.
We won’t even mention any Atlético-Barcelona transfers that happened this summer.
“We’ve started really well with two victories,” Antoine Griezmann said head of the match on Saturday. “We hope to win the third one this week.”
“We’ll go out and give our all and try to win.”
Sentiments that were echoed by Filipe Luís, who’s last game against Barcelona for Atlético was when los Rojiblancos clinched the title in 2014.
“Barcelona has just won all the titles. They have so many resources, even if they have injured players, the squad is practically the same as last year.
“They are the favourites in ever fixture they play. We have the advantage of playing at home and it will surely be a tough game,” the left-back continued.
“We are very confident, but we must play the same as we have in our first two league games, where we haven’t conceded a goal.”
“My last game against them was the one in which we won the League, it was a very important day, but I think that Barcelona have improved greatly since then.”
“I am eager and excited to play again and do my bit so the team can play to win,” Filipe finished.
Who do you want to start for Atlético? Should Simeone give any of the new signings a chance from the start?