Atlético Madrid can seal qualification to the Champions League round of 16 on Wednesday night, and will be out to impress against Galatasaray after a recent barren spell in front of goal.
The rojiblancos need just a draw to ensure a top two finish against the Turkish side, who travel without a manager having only announced the re-appointment of Mustafa Denizli on Monday.
Kick-off in the Vicente Calderón is set for 20:45 CET.
Atleti moved up to second in La Liga with a 1-0 win at Real Betis at the weekend, but perhaps the most encouraging sign for fans isn’t the team’s performances, but the fact they have done so without really hitting top form.
Following another busy summer in the transfer market spent chopping and changing the squad, Simeone’s team are still in a phase of adaptation and have had to deal with a few teething problems so far this season.
Goals have been a real problem as of late. Jackson Martínez hasn’t hit the ground running, and will miss Wednesday’s clash through an injury sustained whilst away on international duty last wee.
Fernando Torres and Luciano Vietto will be vying to partner Antoine Griezmann in attack, but the Frenchman has been going through a somewhat dry patch himself lately with just 1 goal in his last 6.
Ángel Correa is another who could take part, and will be keen to make an impression should he get onto the pitch. Like his fellow frontmen, there is no better way to do that than by finding the back of the net.
Thankfully, in defence the team is still solid as ever, with only Bayern Munich able to boast a better record in Europe’s top 5 leagues as things stand.
Cholo will also be boosted by the return of Juanfran against Galatasaray, who was given the medical clearance on Monday after recovering from a muscle problem.
In his press conference, the Argentine tactician appeared focused and determined always, and underlined the importance of winning the match and qualifying from the group.
“We are prepared for whatever happens tomorrow night,” he said. “Galatasaray are a good side, in particular in attack. They’ve scored six goals in their last two games which just shows their strength in front of goal.”
“The idea is to put in a good performance and understand early on how we have to play in order to win.”
Our opponents make the journey from Istanbul to Madrid without a manager, having only announced the return of former boss Mustafa Denizli on Monday.
It will be the 66 year-old’s third spell in charge of the club, his last coming some 23 years ago in the early nineties. He replaces Hamza Hamzaoğlu after a poor run of form in both league and continental competition.
The Cim-Bom know that only a win will do in the Calderón to keep their faint hopes of qualification alive, but that will be tough given they are without a Champions League away win in their last ten attempts (2 draws, 8 losses).
However, they did manage a 1-1 draw the last time they visited in Atleti’s Europa League winning campaign five years ago, back in the days when they were captained by Arda Turan.
A draw will be enough this time for the red and whites, but with Benfica currently leading the group, is win is crucial to keep the pressure on. The Portuguese side make the long trip to Astana in the group’s other game.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luís, Siqueira, Savic, Gámez, Juanfran, Giménez
Midfielders: Tiago, Koke, Óliver, Gabi, Saúl, Carrasco
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Vietto
Referee: Nicola Rizzoli (Italy)