Match preview: Atlético vs. Real Sociedad

Rojiblancos looking to follow up derby win with three points against La Real

Saúl locks horns with Carlos Vela in midfield

Saúl locks horns with Carlos Vela in midfield

The games don’t stop for Atlético Madrid, who play for the fourth time in nine days on Tuesday night in a home meeting with Real Sociedad.

Diego Simeone’s will be looking to build on their derby triumph on Saturday, and to continue chasing leaders Barcelona despite their considerable lead at the top of La Liga.

Kick-off in the Spanish capital is set for 21:00 CET.

Having played less than 72 hours after their European away trip to Eindhoven last week, very few gave Atleti even a hint of a chance against Real Madrid at the weekend.

However, the red and whites dug deep, out-running, out-thinking and out-battling their local rivals to claim a memorable 1-0 win in the Bernabéu.

Antoine Griezmann’s second half goal puts a four-point gap between us and los Blancos in the table, and also secures head-to-head advantage which effectively means they need to make up five points to overtake us.

Atleti are looking up rather than down now, and can put the pressure on the league’s so-called big two with three points against Real Sociedad on Tuesday night.

The visitors come to the Calderón in good form, up into the top half after a poor start and unbeaten in their last five, a run that included four successive wins before Málaga held them to a draw on Saturday.

Earlier in the season, goals from Griezmann and Carrasco saw Atleti emerge victorious at the Anoeta, although the latter remains on the sidelines as he continues his recovery from an ankle injury.

The Belgian trained apart from the rest of the squad on Tuesday evening, but should be back at the latest for the second leg against PSV on March 15. Stefan Savic and Tiago are also out, but will need longer before finding full fitness again.

Simeone was in good spirits when speaking to press ahead of the match, calling on players and fans alike heading into the business-end of the season.

“We return to the Calderón very excited and hopeful,” he said. “We hope to see a packed stadium with every single ticket sold.”

“With that expectation, we can draw the same strength we used on Saturday and will need again tomorrow. Obviously, the effort is enormous and we are going to need the support of the fans.”

Many teams have changed their tactics in the Calderón and come here to defend, and I would imagine that Real Sociedad will do the same given the characteristics they have,” he said.

“We will need to work twice as hard to find an opening, but it’s up to us to improve rather than the opponent. Our players know that the most important shirt is that of Atlético de Madrid.”

La Real were boosted by the return of top scorer Imanol Agirretxe at the weekend, the 29 year-old scoring the equaliser in his first match of the year in a 1-1 draw against Málaga.

Brazilian striker Jonathas has also found some form lately, although they will be without Sergio Canales and right-back Carlos Martínez, both out with long-term injuries.

Former favourite Antoine Griezmann has enjoyed scoring against his old side since making the move to Atleti two summers ago, but is yet to face them since Eusebio took over from David Moyes back in November.

The Frenchman was in the La Real side that last won at the Calderón in 2012/13, and they will be in confident mood having won the Basque derby at Athletic last time out, and thrashed Espanyol 5-0 in Catalonia two weeks ago.

Atleti are back on the road again on Sunday, travelling to the Mestalla to face Gary Neville’s Valencia side. Griezmann is one of five players at risk of missing that game through suspension, with he, Godín, Gabi, Augusto and Filipe currently on four yellow cards.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Gámez, Lucas, Juanfran, Giménez
Midfielders: Koke, Kranevitter, Óliver, Augusto, Gabi, Saúl, Thomas
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Vietto

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Somebody forgot that this is a leap year !
    This is the fourth game in ten days, not nine, from February 21st to March 1st, still a lot of games in short time though !
    That’s why I think Simeone needs to rotate tonight, a player or two at least, personally, I think he should rest Gabi, because he has been running more than anyone in the team, he is older than anyone (except Tiago), he is under the threat of suspension and benching him will make a room for Oliver or Correa .

    In my comment after the derby I talked about our problem against smaller teams and I gave an example with the two games against Celta last season when we failed to win any of them directly after beating Real Madrid, and I said I don’t think it’s “big games effect” because it would mean that we suffer physically after big games which is impossible with being trained by El Profe (by the way, we ran 11 kilometers more than RM despite having only 65 hours rest after PSV game while they had a whole week, ELEVEN kilometers, this is unbelievable) or it would mean that we lack concentration after big games, which also can’t be, because Simeone have been teaching his players that “our motivation doesn’t come from the name of the competition or the name of the opponent, but from wearing the shirt of Atletico”
    He said it again in the press conference for this game .

    I love how Simeone keeps repeating certain phrases over and over until everyone memorize them, until they become doctrines, I mean how awesome it is for a fan like me to say something then hear the coach saying the same thing the next day, it makes you feel like you belong to this club, like you are a part of this family, and I think that what this Atleti and its success is about .

  • AndersAT

    Very interesting match. Let’s hope we can switch to a more offensive minded game. Augusto, Saul, Koke and Oliver (perhaps Thomas instead of Saul) would be my midfield . I would also start correa with griezman and Vietto as a sub for griezman perhaps (he need some rest).

    Of topic. I know it is blasphemy but I think Higuain would be a perfect summertransfer.