Match preview: Villarreal vs. Atlético

Cholo set to rotate once more in tough trip to El Madrigal

Torres scored the only goal when the teams last met

Torres scored the only goal when the teams last met

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

  • Հմայակ Մարտիրոսյան

    Aupa Atletiii!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Cholo is rotating for the 4th match in a row, and if you meant in La Liga, then it’s the 3rd match in a row .

    I always asked to use Gamez in his natural position and rotate him with Juanfran who is over used every season, but now I have some doubts, I wanted this rotation to be done in easier games, Simeone made this switch in Mestalla last season and we were well-beaten by 3-1, although it was all Miranda’s fault, but in many occasions Juanfran fixed the mistakes of his fellow defenders .
    I wish nothing goes wrong tomorrow .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    After the awful start of Valencia and Sevilla -the latter are at the bottom of the table- I tweeted : ” Would Simeone say we are competing with Celta & Villarreal ?! ”
    And Cholo’s answer was very quick, in the press conference for this game he said :
    ” Rotation is the only way to compete with Real Madrid and Barca ”
    I’m very happy to hear that, although I would have taken “we compete with no one for the 3rd place” as an answer .

    For me, it is very simple, Atletico have a very big financial advantage over the 17 teams in La Liga just as Madrid & Barca have a very big advantage over them .
    The big two have budgets between 500 & 600 million, very far from our 2015-16 budget that was announced by the club few days ago, 194.6 million .
    But those 194.6 M are more than three times the 60 million euros budget of Villarreal .
    Valencia’s & Sevilla’s are a little above 100 million, almost half as ours, if you have noticed, both are playing this season with blank shirts, with no main sponsors .

    Madrid & Barca have about 120 million followers each on Twitter, Facebook & Instagram, eight times our 14 million followers (we have reached 1 M on Instagram just yesterday by the way) .
    But how much Valencia have ?! .. 3.4 million, and the others have much much less .
    You can compare the players’ salaries, the attendance .. every aspect you want, the differences will be huge in both sides .

    Maybe we will lose against Villarreal tomorrow, anything could happen in one game, but in the long term, we should not compete for the 3rd place with anyone, not Valencia and Sevilla, and certainly not Celta and Villarreal .

    We must secure the 3rd place before 4 or 5 weeks from the end then see if there is a chance to win the title, and if we couldn’t do that then we have a problem, a non-financial one .

  • AaX

    This game is set up for the next two crucial games that will have decisive influence on the optimum performance of the team onwards till winter. The most important result to attain is A convincing scoreline victory against Benfica at Home after a successful tactical result against Villareal. This will importantly provide more stability while galvanizes further intensity and momentum Ahead of taking on real at the Vicente Calderon to get to top position before the Int. break. GOD Speed. FORZA ATLETI !!

  • AlPacino

    If what you’re saying is true, we should have never won La Liga, or reach UCL final. In football there are good seasons and bad seasons, and luckily we have Simeone, who’s building a long-term project and bringing stability to our club, which is what makes us stay on top. When Simeone was not our coach, we still had bigger budget than most of the teams in La Liga ( I know we had some financial trouble then, but since when it stopped the Gil family to waste money?), and still we finished behind teams like Villarreal and Osasuna.

    About the game, remember that it is an away game, so it is going to be very hard on us. Let’s hope for the best.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    I’m starting to think Simeone reads our comments when he says things like “rotation” hehe

    Let’s go guyss Aupa Atleti!!!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I won’t say winning La Liga and reaching UCL final was a miracle, but it took us very hard work to achieve, and it will be difficult to repeat, we can’t win 3 or 4 consecutive La Liga titles like Barca, or win 3 UCL titles in 6 years like them or reach 3 finals in 4 years like Man Utd & Bayern, not with our budget and their budgets .

    What was happening to us since returning to La Liga in 2002 until Simeone took charge was also abnormal, finishing 6th or 7th or worse despite the big money we used to spend .
    Simeone did fix that, and playing in the CL for 3 seasons in a row is already a record for our club, BUT : it was very difficult last season, if Torres didn’t scores that goal in the Madrigal we would have finished 4th and played a qualification and who knows what could happen, and I believe it shouldn’t be difficult, not with the levels of “our competitors” for 3rd place .

    I understand what you are saying, it’s not just about money, sometimes you can build a great team with low cost like Villarreal with Pellegrini or Valencia when they had Villa, Mata, Silva and Alba, but right now I don’t see such thing in La Liga, as I kept repeating since last season : I don’t think Valencia & Sevilla are that good .

    Of course there is a good season and a bad season, but after studying all the teams in La Liga, I believe our bad season should be finishing 3rd, maybe 4th if it was really bad, but if less than 4th then we had a disastrous season .