On the back of a goalless draw at home to Sevilla at the weekend, Atlético Madrid face Celta Vigo on Wednesday night with a place in the Copa del Rey semi-finals on the table.
The rojiblancos have failed to score in either of their last two matches, and need a win to qualify having been held 0-0 at Balaídos in last week’s first leg.
Kick-off in the Vicente Calderón is set for 20:30 CET.
All season long, Atleti’s lack of firepower in attack has been the subject of much discussion, but up until Sunday we had more or less gotten away with it.
On a number of occasions, Cholo’s men had been bailed out by a late goal or grinded three points by the smallest of margins, but this time they were left frustrated by a stubborn Sevilla side given no option but to defend after going down to 10 men.
Some called the line-up too defensive, and we did look much more like scoring after the introduction of Yannick Carrasco at half-time, but it’s a problem that seems to be more deep rooted.
The Copa del Rey had given us a chance to test new things and try and find the right remedy up front, but even that has proved fruitless for the most part.
Thankfully our defence remains solid, and Celta Vigo know that they will have to score in the Calderón on Wednesday evening if they are to qualify for their first cup semi-final in 15 years.
Hopefully this will open up the game a little more and make for an attacking spectacle, although we are not sure what sort of line-up to expect from Atleti with Simeone intentionally playing his cards close to his chest.
AS say that the idea is to give Celta as little idea as possible as to what to expect, but the likelihood is that we will field a strong team despite travelling to the Camp Nou on Saturday
Our only injury doubt is Fernando Torres, who hasn’t played since the first leg against Rayo earlier in the month. However, the 31 year-old returned to full training with the squad on Monday so could be involved.
In his press conference, Cholo said that he wouldn’t name his squad until tomorrow at midday, before going on to speak about the match.
“Right now we’re not thinking about Barça, the biggest one for us right now is tomorrow against Celta,” he told journalists. “We know difficulties of the match, it will be very intense with two teams going for the knockout.”
The Argentine tactician remained tight-lipped about his team selection, and also the LFP’s decision to schedule the derby in the Bernabéu next month just 65 hours after our Champions League trip to PSV.
“In life there are excuses and realities. I live in the reality, it is what it is and we will prepare as normal to be in the best shape for the match.”
Celta travel to the capital for the second time in a week, losing 3-0 at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday night having made wholesale changes to their usual XI.
Eduardo Berizzo’s are still without top goalscorer and star man Nolito through injury, after it was reported today that he won’t be moving back to Barcelona during this transfer window.
The Galicians have seen their form drop in recent weeks after an excellent start to the season, and now look to be going all out for the Copa rather than trying to cement a top 4 position.
“We want to reach the semi-finals and make history,” said defender Jonny. “We know it will be a tough game, but we are going out to win and believe we have a good chance.”
After the match, Atleti will have two days to prepare for their vital trip to play Barcelona at the Camp Nou on Saturday afternoon.
The Catalans are also in cup action against Athletic tomorrow night, with Sevilla and Valencia travelling to Mirandés and Las Palmas respectively on Thursday.
Whoever makes it through will have to wait until Friday to find out their opponents in the semi-final, with the draw taking place at 12.00 CET.