Atlético de Madrid travel to Castellón on Saturday night to face off Villarreal in the Madrigal.
Alongside Celta and Real Madrid, the Yellow Submarine are undefeated so far in La Liga and will provide a stern test for Diego Simeone’s men after three successive wins.
Kick-off is set for 20:30 CET.
Once again, like in Eibar, there will be another Atlético reunion. Adrían López and Léo Baptistao are both defending the ‘submarino amarillos’ colors this season.
Last weekend, Adrían held the ball superbly and played a perfect pass for Léo to smash the ball home in their win against Athletic.
However, Adri got injured in the mid week match against Málaga and is in serious doubt for Saturday. Fellow ex-Atlético Sergio Asenjo is still sidelined, and Roberto Soldado and Cédric Bakambu are also major doubts for the clash.
With four wins and just one draw, Villarreal is currently third in the table. A win is absolutely necessary for Atleti if they are to keep up the pressure on league leaders Celta Vigo.
And, according to outlets in Spain, the way Atleti will win is by rotating. Yes – Cholo is rotating for the second match in a row.
Rumor has it that Gámez and Jackson will play, replacing Juanfran and Torres respectively. Óliver and Saúl will start again and Tiago, Filipe and Giménez are back in the lineup.
The presumed lineup is said to be: Oblak; Gámez, Giménez, Godín, Filipe; Óliver, Gabi, Tiago, Saúl; Griezmann and Jackson.
Koke is still injured and doesn’t receive a call-up, nor do Siqueira, Carrasco and Lucas for technical reasons.
In a press conference before the match, Cholo explained how important rotations are to the squad.
“Our physical trainers prepare the squad for an entire year, not a single match,” he said. “We don’t accept when the [players] say they play little. This [rotating] makes them play better and makes our group more competitive.”
The match will also be a special one for Óliver, who spent some months on loan with Villarreal, and Luciano Vietto. It seems as if Óliver will start, but we’re yet to see if Vietto will get minutes in what was his home stadium last year.
After this match, Atleti will host Benfica in the Calderón on Wednesday and then host the first Madrid derby of the season the following Sunday.
This tough schedule for Atleti probably explains why Cholo has been rotating so much the past few matches, and will keep their squad prepared and on their toes for what is still to come.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Savic, Gámez, Juanfran, Giménez
Midfielders: Tiago, Griezmann, Óliver, Gabi, Saúl, Thomas
Forwards: Torres, Jackson, Correa, Vietto