Match preview: Atlético Madrid vs. Alavés

Rojiblancos take on formidable defense without Griezmann in season opener

Atleti have been hard at work preparing for the new season

Atleti have been hard at work preparing for the new season

It may seem like the 2015-16 season just ended, but Atlético is back at it again. They will welcome newly promoted side  Alavés to the Calderón on Sunday at 22:15 CET.

The red and whites had a productive preseason, finishing with 4 wins, a draw and a defeat, but the slate is wiped clean before the first match and it’s hard to know what to expect from Simeone’s men.

Cholo played his closest lineup to a starting XI last week against the Nigerian All-Stars. Oblak remained in goal with Juanfran, Stefan Savic, Diego Godin, and Filipe Luis at the back. Tiago, Koke and Thomas Partey lined up in the middle with Nicolas Gaitán, Kevin Gameiro and Saúl up front.

The first home game should see Saúl move back, taking Thomas’ spot in the midfield. Griezmann is suspended having picked up his fifth yellow card of last season in the final game against Celta Vigo, so either Carrasco or Fernando Torres will partner Gameiro in attack.

Ángel Correa is also in the squad despite only returning from the Olympics last week.

Simeone now seems to favor the attacking 4-3-3 over the 4-4-2, having tested it out a lot over pre-season. This could mean open play and hopefully several goals for Atleti in their first fixture.

Alavés used a 4-5-1 in their most recent match against Real Valladolid. Fernando Pacheco started in goal with Raúl Garcia, Alexis, Zouhair Feddal and Kiko Femenia manned the backline. Manu García, Dani Torres, Nenad Krsticic, Edgar, Ibai Gómez played in the midfield and Gaizka Toqueroa had the lone forward position.

They also have Theo Hernández now amongst their ranks on loan from Atleti, but he won’t be available to play due to terms in his contract.

Argentine manager Mauricio Pellegrino’s men finished with a record of 21-12-9 last season, enough to win the Segunda División. They only managed 49 goals, meaning they are not much of a scoring threat, but conceded just 35. A stingy defense should make Alavés a formidable opponent.

Diego Simeone had several optimistic words in the press conference before the game. He said “it won’t be easy because there are competitors but we feel strong. Alavés has a squad that is quite new, with offensive sides, good pressure and defensive grouping.”

Many would say that Atlético was fortunate to draw one of the promoted sides as their first opponent, but they should not overlook this game considering how hard it could be to score against Alavés.

Last year, it took a deflected free-kick from Antoine Griezmann to overcome Las Palmas on a difficult opening day, and the Frenchman won’t be available this time round.

Gameiro and Gaitán will be making their Atleti debuts if selected to play, although our other major summer signing Sime Vrsaljko won’t be available as Simeone opted to leave him out of his 19-man squad.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Oblak, Moreira
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Savic, Lucas, Giménez, Juanfran
Midfielders: Tiago, Koke, Augusto, Gabi, Saúl, Carrasco, Thomas, Gaitán
Forwards: Torres, Gameiro, Correa

  • iamfaried

    I’m excited about the fact that Correa is included in the squad. Seems as though Simeone has plans for him. However, Oli’s exclusion worries me as it seems to confirm his departure. If that’s the case, then I hope it’s short term.

    Other than that I’m very excited to see Atléti utilize their new signings in a very much anticipated attacking play.

  • Koke


    I think this season will be special in that we will ALWAYS be able to field a mouthwatering attacking trident a la Barca or Real. No, maybe they won’t exactly be MSN or BBC but take your pick of any three from Griezmann, Gameiro, Carrasco, Gaitan, Correa, Torres… all of them are arguably world class, except maybe Torres is past that and Correa isn’t there yet. All the same, we have NO excuse not to be banging in goals left and right this season. I won’t even talk about the fact that they’ll have Koke and -HOPEFULLY- Oliver behind them.

    Thus, if for some unholy reason we continue seeing Simeone favor his three-or-four defensive midfielder system again this season I won’t even know how to express my frustration. Granted, this is also the first time ever that Simeone has Gabi, Tiago AND Augusto all available to him. I don’t think any coach in the world would actually play them all at the same time, but I’ve been wrong before…

  • nandes

    Óliver to Porto, Diogo J and Velazquez going on pointless loans to Portugal, it seems… No idea what’s the point of sending DJ back there, same with Mensah who went back to his original club

    Jorge Mendes things

  • David if sf

    Excited as well. I know it’s the first week but seeing Barcelona and even Sevilla put up six- I must say we have to have the same defensive mentality. Sevilla scored 6 but let in 4. Barca scored 6 but let in 2. I’m hoping Simeone opens up play to where he can accept 2-1 or 3-1 victories. who knows if someone plays 3 cdms it might prove vital as other teams are seemingly okay to their defense being susceptible to breakaways (how most goals were scored this weekend).

    Last thoughts- vietto looked great in free flowing game and also santos borre in uefa cl.

    Genius by Simeone, Camineroband the board….

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Sevilla have a purchase option in Vietto’s loan contract, so not very genius I guess, even if we have a buyback option, and I’m not sure if we do .

  • AndersAT

    Yeah, Vietto just doubled hus rally from last season in one match. Good for him.

    I think he will stay in Sevilla unless Griezman moves on though. I think they are to much alike to play in the same team.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I think you will get frustrated @Koke, and I don’t think we will be banging goals, well, I hope we do better than the 63 La Liga goals last season or the 67 the season before, but I really don’t think we can beat the 77 goals we scored in 2013/14, rather than the 80 we scored in 2008/09 with Aguirre & Abel .

    But I won’t be frustrated, because I’m just tired of being frustrated and angry, and because Simeone’s methods do get results, in an ugly, boring and dangerous manner (wining games in injury time or scoring an early goal then defending it the rest of the game) but he did achieve the results, in both La Liga & UCL .

    It’s true that I claimed that had Simeone was just a little bit more offensive, had we scored just few more goals in a couple of games we would have won La Liga, and had he brought on Correa in UCL final we would have won it, but I can’t be 100% sure .
    I also said many times that we still can be very solid at the back if we dropped one of the 3 or 4 CMs and put an extra attacking and creative player in his place, and that I don’t understand why we have to choose between playing beautiful football and getting results while we can have both, but if Simeone think we have to choose then fuck it, what can I do about that ?!
    So I guess I have made peace with Simeone’s tactics .
    (Let’s see for how long I will keep my word !!) .

    Some people here wanted to replace Simeone with Emre this season, well, Emre is a good coach and can play nice football (can play ugly and nasty football too), but I don’t think for a little bit that he could have won La Liga with us in 2014, couldn’t even come close to win it .
    Guardiola couldn’t have won it either, and he can’t win it with us now, despite the good team we have, he needs a great team to win trophies, just like the one he has now, you can’t compare De Bruyne, Sterling, Nasri, Silva, Navas & Aguero to Gaitan, Carrasco, Koke, Saul, Grizi & Gameiro .
    And the differences between the benches are even bigger .
    The same goes to many other big coaches like Mourinho & Ancelotti, but not Klopp though .

    On the other hand, I still believe that Simeone can not handle a team with too many big talents like Man City, and since we can’t afford to build such a team, I guess Simeone & Atleti are a perfect match .

    I will cut the man some slack this season as long as he keeps getting results, and if his methods stopped getting results, I think he will try to change them, he is not stupid .

    But does he know different ways to success ?!
    Os he able to play a different brand of football ?!
    That’s an entirely different story .

  • Kris

    Yeah we do. We just have to pay them the amount they would pay us to buy him, which would be 23 million euros. 3 million euros for the initial loan and 20 million for the option to buy.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Just two things…1. I’ll still complain and curse if he continues his nonsense
    2. I don’t agree that all those City players are head and shoulders above ours, the english media just exaggerates everything

  • anna

    will Griezmann be on the next game?

  • atleti10

    No Gaitan in the starting 11, fuck sake. Was looking forward to a bit of flair.