Still reeling from their first loss of the season away to Sevilla last week, Atlético Madrid are looking to get back on track this Saturday at home against Málaga.
The rojiblancos have had a week to prepare since last week’s loss, and know that only a win will do if they want to remain amongst the leading pack at the top of La Liga.
Kick-off in the Spanish capital is set for 18:30 CET.
Atlético looked lacklustre in attack and were definitely affected by the wet conditions in Sevilla week. They let in a sloppy, uncharacteristic goal and with 10 men, could not muster an equalizer late in the match.
Tomorrow they have to chance to put things right, and keep the pressure on at the top of La Liga when they face Juande Ramos’ Málaga at the Calderón.
Last season, the match was almost overshadowed by ‘ball-gate’, Simeone seemingly ordering a ball to be thrown on the pitch to stop a Málaga counter attack and subsequently receiving a three match ban and fine.
Augusto, Miguel Ángel Moya, and Alessio Cerci are still absent through injury, and José Giménez doesn’t make the squad despite being passed fit. Koke also misses out due to a ban after receiving two yellows against Sevilla.
In his place, Saúl is set to make his first start since October 2nd, replacing Ángel Correa who has fallen out of form and missed a few chances in front of goal in recent weeks. Nico Gaitán is also likely to start.
Fresh off a 4-0 shellacking of Leganés, Málaga have risen to tenth in the standings. Manager Juande Ramos, who took over this season after Javi García left for Rubin Kazan, has been using a 4-2-3-1 line-up recently.
Carlos Kameni started in goal last time out behind a back line of Roberto Rosales, Bakary Koné, Mikel Villanueva, and Juankar.
Zdravko Kuzmanovic and former rojiblanco Ignacio Camacho are the deep lying midfielders with Jony, Pablo Fornals, and Gonzalo Castro in the more forward roles. Sandro Ramírez is the lone striker.
Ramírez leads the team in goals with three, but the team likes to spread the scoring around with nine players currently on one goal each.
Simeone is impressed with Saturday’s rival, highlight their danger in his pre-match press conference.
“Málaga are on the up and have had some good results recently. They have pace on both wings and quality through the middle, so I’m not expexting a team who will come here to defend.”
“We’ve been having a good start to the season ourselves though, and all the players have been doing well. We work to continue improving day after day and growing as a team.”
After the match, focus will return to the Champions League and a meeting with Rostov in the Calderón on Tuesday.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Oblak, Moreira
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Savic, Vrsaljko, Lucas, Juanfran
Midfielders: Tiago, Saúl, Carrasco, Gabi, Gaitán, Thomas
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Gameiro