The first game of 2016 for Atlético sees the club welcome Levante to the Vicente Calderón, knowing that a win is vital if they are to keep up the pace with Barcelona at the top of La Liga.
Kick-off in Madrid is set for 20:30 CET.
Fresh from their victory in the FIFA Club World Cup, Barcelona returned to league action with a thumping 4-0 win over Real Betis on Wednesday night. The win took them back to the top of the Spanish league, and with a derby against Espanyol set for Saturday afternoon, they could be three points clear by the time Atleti kick-off against Saturday night’s opponents.
Diego Simeone will be hoping for a much improved performance over the last two Atlético has delivered.
A 2-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano on Wednesday was the headline, but this masked an otherwise disappointing performance in front of goal. Yes. Another one.
The same things were said following the 1-0 loss to Málaga before the winter break. Atlético’s attackers just haven’t clicked in front of goal so far this season.
With all of the talk of Fernando Torres’ struggled in front of goal, and in the perpetual search for his 100th goal for Atlético, it’s perhaps lost that he’s our joint second goalscorer this season in the league, with a grand total of two goals.
Leading the way of course is Antoine Griezmann, who picked up his ninth league goal of the season with a cheeky lob over Yoel in the 90th minute against Rayo.
Cholo will be hoping that the return of Gabi has a positive effect on the team, and the club captain should slot back into midfield, as neither of the new signings make the squad list.
Fernando Torres should keep his place up top, despite the return to the side of Jackson Martínez, who featured in the second half against Rayo on Wednesday. The Colombian has struggled since joining Atleti, but managed to get an assist on his return. Although Griezmann made the most of the striker’s pass.
Jesús Gámez will drop to the bench as Filipe Luís returns from suspension, whilst Carrasco should feature again in midfield.
A Levante trip to the Vicente Calderón kicked off 2015 too. Almost exactly one year ago in this fixture last season, the Valencians made the trip to Madrid and were on the wrong end of a 3-1 result. You may remember this game as the return of ‘The Archer’.
It was Antoine Griezmann who scored two for Atleti. Let us hope the goals are spread around a bit tomorrow and that our Frenchman isn’t the only one firing.
Atlético squad to face Levante:
Goalkeepers: Moyá and Oblak.
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luis, Savic, Jesús Gámez, Juanfran and Giménez
Midfielders: Koke, Gabi, Saúl, Carrasco and Thomas.
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Jackson, Correa and Vietto.