Match preview: Atlético vs. Levante

Atlético's struggling attack takes on Levante to keep pace with Barcelona

Griezmann scored two last year versus Levante

Griezmann scored two last year versus Levante

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.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Cholo did say in the preseason :
    ” This season, don’t be surprised to see a player comes from the stands to be a starter in the next game, or from a starter to the bench, or from a starter to the stands ”
    I wish this is the case of Oliver who didn’t made the list of this game after being a starter in the previous one .

    If winning tonight with playing well without Oliver would make Simeone give him even less chances than he is already getting, then I wish we don’t .
    Is this a wrong thing to say ?!!
    I really don’t think so .. this is enough .. enough masking problems, enough being impatient and unfair with very talented players while being very patient and giving full chances to others who don’t even have half of their talents, but instead they have some muscles !

    I wanted to say the following before Rayo’s game, but I didn’t have the time :
    ” There is a big chance that Oliver won’t have a big game, because :
    1- It’s an away game .
    2- Rayo play attacking football and put a lot of pressure on the opponent .
    3- That trio : Saul-Koke-Oliver didn’t play together many games and they will need some time .
    But if Oliver didn’t play well he shouldn’t be punished, and he must play alongside Koke more and more with only one defensive midfielder behind them, Saul or Gabi or Tiago or Kranevitter . ”

    Oliver suffered as I feared, but yet, he did make a lovely pass to Torres that nobody else could have made it -except Tiago- and if Torres had scored it, both he and Oliver would have become heroes that night .
    Maybe Oliver would have been the one who made the assist instead of Thomas had he stayed on the pitch .
    If I was Oliver, I would absolutely be angry and frustrated to see Thomas make the list and I don’t .

    Once again : many clubs are after Oliver, Jorge Mendes both represents him and owns some of his rights and he would love him to move to a different club to cash in on him, and Oliver’s contract expires in 2018 .

    If we lost that kid I will never forgive Simeone .

  • Koke

    I hear you, they say no player is more important than the team, and that’s true, but on the other hand not even the coach (Simeone) is more important than the team. Simeone (yes, he’s a great coach – that doesn’t mean he’s immune to criticism) is one of the most stubborn men in the game, it seems. He will never give a player a breakthrough unless he is forced to. Signing Augusto strikes me the wrong way because it shows Simeone wants to play it safe (boring) instead of being bold and taking new risks. What happened to his resolution to move Koke to the center? What about playing from a “new idea”? When we sold Mario Suarez and brought in Oliver, Correa, and Carrasco I was convinced we would see a new era and a new style. Now we are just caught somewhere in the middle.

    If Oliver doesn’t play, he will get frustrated. If he gets frustrated, he will want to leave. If he wants to leave, just about any and every club in the world would probably love to have him, even Real, Bayern, or Barca (who have reportedly already inquired about him). No, I’m not saying Simeone has to give him 90 minutes every game. I just want him to have a fair chance. It seems like Simeone never lets new players play until he is forced to by injury or suspension (example, Oblak, Jimenez, Saul, Carrasco). Even Griezmann, our best attacker by far, didn’t get many chances until halfway through last season. I’m beginning to think that it’s not until Koke gets injured that Oliver will get consistent minutes, like how it happened earlier this season. But now I’m even afraid that Simeone will prefer to play trios with Augusto-Saul-Gabi or Kranevitter-Augusto-Gabi in some games. It’s frustrating.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I would never watch a game with any of those trios in the line-up, I already had my fair share of boredom, frustration & suffering !!
    I was always against playing with 2 DMs, imagine playing with 3 !!

    I don’t understand why Simeone has to play it safe though ?!
    If he doesn’t fight for La Liga as he says, and with all the rivals for the 3rd place are dropping many points, and with a back 4 of : the right back of Spain, the left back of Brazil and the 2 center backs of Uruguay, and with Oblak behind them, I think there is a very big room for a very small risk .

    I love the man, I loved him since he was a player, I wish he stays for a long time, because as I said before : he brings too many important things more than results, I don’t think he will go to Chelsea, or Man Utd (that’s the new rumor now !), but I believe if he managed any of them someday, he will never have any success .
    I hurts me to say this, but after what I have seen in the last season and a half, I really believe it .

  • Andras Toth

    Guys, I have to tell you that you are right about Oliver and his chances not given, and that we have too many players for midfield. But there are some aspects that has to be considered as we try to figure out what’s going on.

    We need at least one experienced guy in midfield it is a must, as talent can just come from nowhere during the 90 minutes from Oli, Angelito and can win some games for us, but it is consistency and experience that can keep is in front of the table. With Tiago out, Gabi is the only one we have in midfield, it simply not enough, in this aspect I think Augusto was a good idea. Saying it even with that before the Tiago injury I thought the same thing like you, why on Earth we would need a 29 old player in midfield. After watching all the games without Tiago I say we need it for sure, it can mean the difference of having a trophy at the end of the season, in my opinion of course..

    Atleti has become a big club, with big investors and a clear path to revenue growth, and for that I really think that Cholo has to take some things into considerations that he would not if he coached Celta or Villareal. He probably could have 5-6 games with this young midfiled and see where it can get us. But not with this Atletico, a world brand in the building…I really think that Augusto was brought in because he does not have so much room for experimenting with the youngsters. They were really bad against Rayo.. And he needs results, that means some dull games, but if he doesn’t have the results, than we won’t have the economical power to keep our talents in 1-3 years… it is a kind of circulus vitiosus.. He needs to have consistency and with these young guys it is very hard to have that. Time will tell if he can manage all these things, keep the board happy and have the growth going, have the results, and keep the young guys Saul, Oli, Thomas happy with some minutes given and have them growing in the same time to build the future. I have to tell you it must be very hard, bit I guess he is there to solve these. I think we have the best team of the future, but I am not sure if we can solve all the things at once, Let’s hope we do! Have a good season, and keep the youngsters here, growing, and satisfied!

    There is big chance that we will be given the same punishment like Barca, so we won’t be able to sign any new players. In that case 1-2 injuries and we will need all these players we have. We must not forget this one either!!