Atlético Madrid are back at Balaídos on Wednesday night, as they prepare to take on Celta Vigo in the Copa del Rey.
The red and whites ran out 2-0 winners in Galicia earlier in the month, and they will be looking for a similar result in tomorrow’s quarter-final first leg.
Kick-off is set for 20:30 CET.
Goals from Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco secured the points for Atleti at a rain-soaked Balaídos ten days ago, and they followed that win up with a 3-0 success at Las Palmas on Sunday.
Top of La Liga and still competing strongly on all three fronts, the Copa has given Diego Simeone a chance to make full use of his 24-man squad this season.
Unlike in previous matches though, the Argentine tactician has opted to name a full strength squad, calling up 19 players for the trip.
Fernando Torres and long-term absentee Tiago are still out injured, but other than Saúl Ñíguez – who we presume is just rested – there are no unexpected omissions.
Cholo is expected to make rotations still, and he tested the likes of Thomas Partey, Óliver Torres and Matías Kranevitter in an experimental line-up in training yesterday.
Not involved are defenders Lucas Hernández and Guilherme Siqueira, both of whom could well be on their way out of the club before the end of the January transfer window.
In his press conference, Simeone gave little away about his team selection, but did underline how seriously he is taking both the opponent and the Copa del Rey this season.
“We know that knock-out ties are always complex, especially playing against a strong, attacking team like Celta,” he told press. “We’re preparing for tomorrow’s game as if it were last.”
“Our squad? Every player is valued. We play each match with all 18 players called, as you can see by the impact of the substitutes. I don’t think about winning only the first 10 minutes, it’s important to think about the ninety as a whole.”
After overcoming Rayo Vallecano in the last round a week ago, Atleti will be desperate to book their place in the semi-final, but if things panned out differently we could have been gearing up for a derby this week.
Celta beat Segunda B outfit Cádiz in the round of 16, who took Real Madrid’s place in the competition after los blancos were thrown out for fielding an ineligible player against them last month.
They were 5-0 aggregate winners, but have struggled in La Liga lately – perhaps due to the fact that they had their captain Augusto Fernández conveniently stolen from them earlier in the month…
Star man Nolito has also been out for over a month, and won’t be risked tomorrow despite having returned to training.
Another player unlikely to feature is captain Hugo Mallo as he battles an illness, although new signing Claudio Beauvue – who scored an impressive 27 goals for Guingamp last season – could make his debut.
On Saturday, they ended their three-match league losing streak by beating bottom-side Levante in a 4-3 thriller, and still find themselves in a race for the European places up in fifth spot.
We’re still waiting for the RFEF to confirm a date and time for the second leg at the Calderón next week, although it will most likely be the Wednesday judging by the two team’s respective fixtures.
On Sunday afternoon, Atleti take on Sevilla in another crucial encounter, and Celta are also in the capital for a visit to Rayo the night before.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Savic, Gámez, Juanfran, Giménez
Midfielders: Koke, Kranevitter, Óliver, Augusto, Gabi, Thomas, Carrasco
Forwards: Griezmann, Jackson, Correa, Vietto