Match preview: Reus vs. Atlético

Red and whites begin life without Tiago with cup clash in Catalonia

Cantera midfield to take centre stage in Reus

Cantera midfield to take centre stage in Reus

The Copa del Rey returns this week, and Atlético Madrid are preparing to play their fourth match in nine days away to Segunda B outfit Reus on Tuesday evening.

Simeone has named a much-changed squad for the trip to Catalonia, which could serve as an audition for potential replacements for the injured Tiago to prove their worth.

Kick-off in the Camp Nou Municipal is set for 20:00 CET.

Having won their last four matches, kept five successive clean sheets and not tasted defeat since September, you would think that optimism would be at peak level amongst the rojiblanco fanbase.

However, Saturday’s 1-0 win over Espanyol was marred by the injury suffered by midfield talisman Tiago in the first half, who was forced off and now looks set to miss the majority of the season with a fractured tibia bone.

Atleti’s solid recent form is due largely to the excellent form of Tiago and Gabi, but the captain will have to find a new partner in crime at least until the January transfer window opens.

With Matías Kranevitter already coming in next month, whether or not reinforcements will be sought remains to be seen. Until then, four names have come to the fore; Koke, Saúl, Óliver and Thomas.

All four have been named in the squad for the game against Reus, and the likelihood is that they will all get the chance to play from the start and stake their claim for a regular place in the midfield pivot.

Gabi gets a rest, as do Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco after heavy involvement in recent weeks. Fernando Torres stays in Madrid, along with Jackson Martínez who is still recovering from a muscle strain.

In defence, Diego Godín, Juanfran and Filipe Luís also get the night off, with Miguel Ángel Moyá expected to start his first game of the season in goal.

Cholo has called up three canteranos, defender Borja González and attackers Samuel Villa and Roberto Núñez from Atleti B, and is also likely to give Lucas Hernández a rare outing.

The Argentine head coach spoke with humility ahead of the clash, underlining just how seriously Atleti will take the competition and opponent but confirming that he will make changes.

“The cup is very important to us,” he said. “It has played a huge role in the history of Atlético and is a tournament that has given us many joys and successes in the past.”

“We have an overall idea about the game and will transmit this to the team tomorrow. Reus are an organised team and haven’t lost at home in a year, so it will be difficult.”

Tiago was also a topic of discussion, and although usually tight-lipped on transfers, Cholo did hint that the club could dip into the winter market to find a replacement.

“We’ll work with the guys we have, but at 34 years of age he has an experience level that you don’t have in your mid-twenties,” he told reporters. “We always review the squad during the January window, even more so this year with Tiago’s injury.”

Switching focus to our opponents, apart from being the butt of many jokes concerning Borussia Dortmund’s much-coveted Marco Reus, what do we know about Reus Deportiu?

The club decided to give us a helping hand, and created this video in Catalan, in similar fashion to Sant Andreu when Atlético faced them in the cup back in 2013.

Geographically, Reus is situated in Catalonia with their closest neighbors being teams such as Sabadell, Espanyol and the aforementioned Sant Andreu. They play at the Camp Nou Municipal, a small stadium with a capacity of around 5,000.

The previous three seasons they have finished 14th, 12th and 3rd in Segunda B group 3, losing out in the play-offs last year against Racing de Ferrol. After appointing ex-coach Natxo Gonzales in 2014, they’ve improved considerably.

Half an hour after Atletico won 1-0 against Espanyol on Saturday, Reus themselves imposed a 1-0 victory over Valencia B with David Haro hitting the winning goal.

They are currently enjoying a splendid season, sitting atop their division with  11 wins and just one defeat from 17 games. Their defeat came away against current midtablers, Alcoyano, who beat them 3-0.

So far in the cup they have beaten Asco, Arandina and Lleida Esportiu. On this season’s evidence, they are amongst the best teams in the entirety of the third tier and will no doubt seek to prove themselves against higher opposition on Tuesday.

In two weeks time we’ll finally get to see Reus play in the Calderón, although not quite as Juan Gato infamously predicted last summer.

Never before have the two sides met competitively, so we should have a good atmosphere and occasion in store.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak
Defenders: Siqueira, Savic, Gámez, Lucas, Giménez, Borja
Midfielders: Koke, Óliver, Saúl, Thomas, Villa
Forwards: Correa, Vietto, Rober

  • Ringo

    Villa is called an attacker but he’s among the midfielders, so my guess is he’s a winger.

    I would start with the triangle of Saúl, Koke and Óliver, starting like this:


    but with simple circulation positioning it switches to




    The upper ones in these midfield formations are the somewhat more offensively oriented midfielders and the lower ones the more defensive fellas. As you can see I always put Oli in the upper group. I did this because Koke and Saúl have more defensive skills (and experience with more defensive roles).

    Correa and Villa supporting Vietto up front and linking up with the midfielders.
    That would make Correa a (fake) winger, but I think he should have some sort of free role, simultaneously being an offensive midfielder, a winger and a second striker.

    The defense will probably be Siq-Luc-Sav-Gam, but Giménez could play instead of Lucas perhaps. I hope he’s a backup for the usually 3rd and 4th central defenders though.
    Moyá coaching them from his box in the back.

    In the second half replace Koke with Thomas (kind of depending on how well or bad the game goes) and put on Rober for whoever was best until the 60th or 70th minute out of Correa and Vietto. Borja Gonzalez II replacing the player whose in whichever position his favourite is in minute 70 or so.

    I have no idea about Borja, Villa and Rober’s exact positioning and levels, though, if Rober is more of a winger than Villa is or just is of a higher level, switch their names in my story.
    If one of them is a striker and excellent, I’d be interested in a (nonwide midfield) diamond formation, with Correa being the one between the forwards and the midfielders.

    Lots of changes, so I hope the team won’t play terribly. If we start the game with the triangle I mentioned in the beginning, Correa combining with them a lot and Vietto working like he did against Espanyol, I think the general play will be at least okay.

    Not having Griezmann and Carrasco might help the midfielders find ways to get forward in other ways than through their speed, work, positioning, dribbling and agility. That’s a good thing. It could also help Correa get back in the eye of Simeone, perhaps in a more composed fashion, since sometimes he was way too eager to jump right into duels and his dribbling was good but not at the level he’s already shown to be capable of reaching.

    I do think Cholo will play 4-2-2-2 (4-4-2), though, like this:

    – – – – – – Correa – – Vietto
    – – – Óliver – – – – – – – – – Koke
    – – – – – Saúl – – – – Thomas
    Siquera – Savic – Giménez – Gámez
    – – – – – – – – Moyá

    since he does emphasize experience A LOT.

    Well, cheers guys.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    The kids need a big win, it will give them confidence, and it may convince Simeone to give them more chances, even if the opponent is a Segunda B side .
    He hasn’t been too fair with them, after Tiago’s injury I expected him to say that we are O.K, we have Saul, he is a great player, but he didn’t, from his words, it seemed that he thinks none of the players we have can replace him and he is really considering to sign a replacement in January, there are also those rumors about signing Gaitan, while we have a genius called Oliver .

    This makes me think : if we had the money 3 years ago (in the summer of 2012 we spent only one million on transfers) would Simeone still have given Koke the full chance, which made him the great player he is right now ?!
    Why not do the same thing with Oliver & Saul, and Manquillo, who was good enough to play for Liverpool & Marseille, I think those two big clubs would never consider Gamez .
    Some people will talk about the experience and the adaptation, they’re maybe right, but we all saw Oliver become a regular starter with Porto and one of their most important players last season, and Manquillo played many minutes with Liverpool, and he is now a regular starter with O.M, even Raul Garcia is a regular with Athletic and probably one of their 3 most important players with Aduriz & Wiliams .
    Why is it only Atleti that require too long time for adaptation ?!!

    By the way, the main reason Raul left us was to get more minutes, after he realized that his chances are slim with the newcomers, Oliver, Correa, Carrasco & Vietto .
    Raul played 1200 minutes with Athletic so far this season, while Oliver, Correa & Vietto together played 1414 minutes, Correa, who’s half of Europe’s giants are after him has played 419 minutes .
    Isn’t this crazy ?!

    So, the boys need to put on a great show tonight, and to achieve a big win, although it will be difficult with all these changes and against a team with its full strength and who are in good form lately, being the leaders of their group in Segunda B, actually, the possibility of a surprising defeat is still there .. I hope not .

    I wan’t to say that I’m glad too see Moya again, I know that many people were angry to see him playing while one of the most promising GKs in the world and the most expensive is Spain history was the on the bench, but Moya was very good last season, better than Keylor, or at least at the same level, but Atletico don’t have their own press to talk to about him .
    “Keylor is the second GK to keep clean sheets in his first 4 games in UCL”, that was one of too many headlines about Keylor, but guess who was the the first GK to achieve that, and he even made them 5 games, it was Moya, that’s a headline we never read .

  • Ringo

    I think Simeone’s first step is always stability and in his opinion experience is a huge part of that. That’s also why Moyá has gotten so many minutes last year. He’s very secure, keeps the team stable. I actually do think Keylor is of a higher level than Moyá’s, while I agree Moyá deserved that headline, even if he had great defenders like Godín and (yes) Miranda in front of him for protection. Even with Joao’s mistakes he was one of the best defenders around, especially when partnered with Godín and aided by Juanfran, Tiago and Gabi – Ansaldi was getting pretty secure too, until he drove while under the influence of alcohol, which took away a lot of his “mental stability credit.”

    I think I’m understanding Simeone’s reasons for the experience more and more. Replacing Tiago or Gabi with a fresh youngster like Oli or Correa will gave us more spark, more creativity and by that more goals. But like our team under Aguirre, the sparks can sometimes break down in a game and you lose, occasionally you lose big time. Simeone wants to lift our lows and the intelligence of Tiago plus the leadership and trickery of Gabi are, to Simeone, probably essential for our lows to be at their highest possible level. Such a thing must be the reason for saying players at midtwenties aren’t even close to Tiago’s level of experience. Which isn’t an insult to the canteranos, but one of the teachings of Simeonology

    While I’d personally prefer the spark, I get the Cholo-perspective. I want to be able to enjoy all of the team’s games, but it’s nice to feel pretty certain of at least third place even when we’re in terrible shape. I feel like we’ve only seen three or four good games by Atleti this season and we’re in second place! We could be first, of course, but the team is growing and at our worst we’re already pretty solid and in a high position on the league table. We’re closer to first place than we are to fourth and fifth position is even further away. We obviously need more goals, but the offense seems to be clicking more every day, so I’d reckon the final touches will too. Jackson, Vietto and Torres all seem close to finding their scoring boots now and Carrasco and Griezmann are already getting themselves into good positions oftenly.

    I just hope Simeone is incorrect about how essential Tiago’s experience is and that Saúl and Koke – and eventually Thomas and Kranevitter – are fully able to take his position. Tiago was likely our best player so far, though, so we will have to wait and see…

  • atleti10

    I think he’ll play that formation also… and I’m pretty excited about it.

    i actually want to watch this game more than most this season just to see how creative and attacking the team can be.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    This is the first time I hear this DUI story about Ansaldi, what I read everywhere is that he got into an argument with a police officer and he slammed his car’s door on the officer’s hand .

    I understand the experience thing, but I don’t understand the exception of Koke, was he really too much better than Oliver 3 years ago ?!

    And I understand the security and cautiousness, but when you have a world class GK, the best back 4 in the world and Koke on the pitch, do you really also need both Gabi & Tiago ?!

    We played most of Espanyol’s game without either of them, and they didn’t have a single shot on Oblak, just like many other opponents who didn’t cause us any problem in the back but we struggled to create chances against them because all the creativity was on the bench .
    I totally believe that our 29 points would never have gotten less without one of this couple, not even one point, on the contrary, I really believe they could have been more .

    Sometimes Simeone takes the cautiousness too far, just like against RM in UCL last season, when everybody was waiting for Torres as our last sub, it was Gimenez, a 3rd CB, and just after 2 minutes we conceded a goal and were knocked out .
    Until this day I keep thinking : could Torres have scored and took us to the semifinals if he played ?!

    I hate when people compare between Aguirre and Simeone, especially in the defense, Simeone have/had a group of the best players in the world in the goal and in the defense, 2 went to Chelsea, one to Inter, Man Utd will go after Oblak if they lost De Gea, Juanfran turned down Arsenal, twice, Man City wanted Gimenez, and everybody wants Godin,
    while Aguirre had :
    Leo Franco, who ended up playing in Segunda for many seasons .
    Valera, who couldn’t make better than Getafe .
    Ze Castro, with Rayo .
    Pablo Ibanez, who played for 2 seasons with Birmingham in the championship and I don’t know where the hell he is right now .
    Perea, the one who is considered a legend by many fans, but in his last few seasons he was a real disaster .
    Ujfalusi was a disaster too in my opinion, despite being loved so much -until this moment- by too many fans .
    And Heitinga, Coupet, Seitaridis and the infamous Fabiano Eller .
    Very terrible group of players, Simeone could have never done any better with them, nobody could .
    Of course Aguirre was responsible for signing them or at least keeping them in his team, and for that he is a bad coach, and with no personality if those players were forced on him, especially those who were represented by Jorge Mendes .
    Simeone is nothing like that, one of his biggest assets is his strong personality, it’s true that he didn’t sign any of our back 4, the original 4 who were already there before him, or even Gimenez, it was all Caminero, the one who built this great team after the departure of Jesus Pitarch (fuck him, by the way) but Simeone would had never kept those defenders and GKs who were with Aguirre and Quique .

    I had to mention all this information that most of you know because sometimes it seems that some people forget .
    We weren’t that bad in defense before Simeone because the tactics or the style of play, but because the type of players, so comparing our defense with Simeone to that with Aguirre or Quique, that many people occasionally do, is a faulty comparison .

    I don’t think our defense will get weaker if we played with only one defensive midfielder, at least against opponent so pathetic like Espanyol .

    There is a fine line between cautiousness and cowardness, and I think Simeone has crossed that line several times .

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Just let me say, Lucas, Sequira and Gamez have been awful in this game. Gamez has been better than the other two but he has still been poor

  • Ringo

    Godín and Miranda are probably better than Perea and Pablo, Filipe is better than Lopez and Juanfran is easily better than Valera.
    But still there was a huge difference between the formations, even if Aguirre and Simeone both played some sort of 4-2-2-2.
    Aguirre was between counterattack and all-out-attack and the first thing Simeone tried to do was build a strong defensive organization.
    That was clear from day one. I think that that’s where the cautiousness comes from.

    Quique was just terrible and I hate it when people praise him for the Europa League victory. I won’t compare him to anyone, since I would prefer literally any coach over him. His okay-ish defensive records in some games was for making everyone stay back and only allowing Reyes to do something creative sometimes and the team was still chaotic as fudge.

    I think defense is more about the organization and teamwork than good defenders. The defense we have now is so well because the midfielders help terrifically well, the wingbacks are solid and know when to stay back. The wide midfielders know when to cover the wingbacks during counter attacks.

    How Griezmann changed his whole game is one piece of proof showing Cholo’s influence on the players. The whole reason Atleti+Cholo clicks is the defensive organization and the energy all around. Miranda, Godín, Filipe, Juanfran, Gabi and Tiago were already there, it was under Simeone that they got polished into an imprenetable machine.

    I agree that Simeone is (way) too cautious, though. I can’t even recall him taking off a defender for a midfielder or attacker once when we were behind. I think he’s the only coach who’s never done that.
    I wouldn’t say he’s a coward, though. He could have played way more offensively, but he’s had his reasons for being really defensive when it comes to football. It has worked for him before with the older players, I guess he’s having a hard time letting it go.

    Although, slowly, I am seeing changes, Cholo and the team are seemingly adapting to eachother.

    And about the Koke-Oliver debate. Perhaps Oli is further than Koke was at that age, but Koke was more of a Cholo player. Koke already had the aggression Simeone asks of his midfield and was stronger defensively. Oli plays with a more intuitive type of creative play, which is harder to put into an organization like Cholo tried and tries to put down on the pitch. I think it takes more adaption from both Oli and Cholo to make this work soon, but I am seeing progress.

    Cholo is giving more and more space for creative outings, and Oli is stealing possession more and more. It’re slow steps, but they are being made, I think. Perhaps the Tiago injury will quicken the process, with Koke and Saúl probably having to focus more on the central midfield position than before, giving Oli a bigger portion of the offensive midfield minutes.

    I’m not saying our success was all Simeone, but the consistency, the organization feeling like a wall impossible to get through for the opposition definitely does have his autograph on it. He couldn’t have done it without the players, but I think the players couldn’t have done it without him, either.

    Speaking on the game, Correa could use a hand of Simeone on his defending. His tackles are energetic, but actually pretty bad. He makes way too many fouls.
    Perhaps that’s where his decrease in minutes comes from.

  • Ringo

    You can clearly see their lack of rhythm. Siqueira was always pretty chaotic in his play, but there was some system and stability to it at the end of last season. Today, with a whole new team around him, it’s just too much for him, I think. He works hard, but it pretty much never pays off. Gámez has more talent than he’s showing, as well. Lucas missing that ball and his insecurity is clearly showing his lack of rhythm. He does things okay, but when under a little pressure he is too slow with his movements, etc. He needs more minutes to be relied on and like with Siqueira a whole reserve team is not helping him right now. You can see it in Thomas, as well.

    The midfielders are positioning as if they’re playing with the usual cool headed defenders behind them, they are not prepared for the kick and rush the defenders are showing right now. With a composed defense who can pass the ball forward, the play would have been way better, I think. Also Correa needs to cool off in his head a bit. I really really love his energy, but he can be way more effective once the pressure is lifted from his shoulders a bit.

    I was expecting a hard game, I was hoping I wasn’t right.

    Thomas needs more minutes to get rhythm and used to the team, but on the short term it’s clearly Koke and Saúl who should replace Tiago. Simply because the simple things are going as they should be going: simply.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    I agree tho, I’m pretty sure things will look better the next time they all play. What happened to hat chinese kid we had during pre season? He impressed me a lot

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Does Lucas play with Atletico B this season ?!
    I don’t think so, he does play with the youth team in UEFA Youth League, but it’s not enough, that’s a big problem, a 19-year-old needs to play every week, Thomas and Savic can afford to sit on the bench for a long time, they are 22 and 24 and both have first division experience in a top-5 league, not a youth league or Segunda B .

    Very bad call from Simeone and Caminero, he should have been loaned, and they should loan him in January, we are well covered at the back, 3 CB, 2 RB & 2 LB, Gamez can play as a RB and a CB, Savic plays as a RB with Montenegro, and Saul played as CB in some occasions with Paco, and he is a lefty, so he can be a LB too .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    He couldn’t have done it without the players, and the players couldn’t have done it without him, that’s true .
    But I also believe that he couldn’t have done it with those players who were with Aguirre, they were awful, I hate them just like you hate Quique .

    Maybe Aguirre’s system was one reason for that weak defense, but we conceded too many goals because of stupid mistakes from those idiots, a lot of own goals, a lot of ridiculous penalties, a lot of flops from the goalkeepers, especially Franco .
    They couldn’t even set up a wall for a free kick, remember when Messi scored while they were setting it up, and there wasn’t any smart player to stand in front of the ball until we finish the wall, and there was no captain to ask the ref to play on the whistle .
    (It was Abel though, but it was the team that Aguirre built)

    And as if the horrible GK and the defenders weren’t enough, in front of them there was a piece of shit called Assunção .

    Very painful memories .

  • Kris

    “I think defense is more about the organization and teamwork than good defenders.”

    So True.

    The reason why we’ve been so successful defensively is because of the organization and the teamwork. I mean, everybody in our team defends!