Champions League preview: Atlético vs. Rostov

Rojiblancos looking to seal their passage to the last 16 on Tuesday night

Fernando Torres to start against Rostov

Fernando Torres to start against Rostov

After their 4-2 win over Málaga at the weekend, attention turns to the Champions League for Atlético Madrid as they prepare to face FC Rostov on Tuesday night.

The red and whites will qualify for the knockout stage with two games to spare should they beat the Russian side at the Vicente Calderón.

Kick-off in the Spanish capital is set for 20:45 CET.

Three games, three goals, three wins has been the story of Atleti’s Champions League campaign so far this season, the rojiblancos a picture of efficiency in their ascent to the top of Group D.

Cholo’s men have been taking on all comers in La Liga with their newfound attacking prowess, but have adopted a more measured approach in Europe, more reminiscent of the style that has taken us to two finals in recent years.

Man of the moment Yannick Carrasco volleyed home the only goal of the game in Rostov two weeks ago, and will be looking to continue in his rich vein of form that has seen him score 7 times in the last 6 matches.

Atleti dominated in the cold conditions in Russia, and will most likely field an attacking line-up for the reverse fixture as they look to book their place in the round of 16.

They will be without Nico Gaitán however, the Argentine winger forced off after half an hour against Málaga with a hip injury. Thankfully the problem is said to be not as serious as first feared.

Alessio Cerci, Miguel Ángel Moyá and Augusto Fernández also remain on the treatment table, but José María Giménez does return to the squad after five weeks out with a hamstring strain.

Meanwhile, Kevin Gameiro does make the squad but is doubtful having not trained on Monday due to bruising on his right knee. 19 players have been called-up, meaning one will have to drop out.

In his press conference, Diego Simeone confirmed that Fernando Torres will partner Antoine Griezmann and spoke about the threat that Rostov bring to the Calderón.

“I can confirm that Torres will play,” he said. “He knows the competition and his willingness to work and battle is a great virtue. As a team we hope to keep driving that same ambition.”

“Rostov are a team that never gives in. They have clear ideas and know how to exploit their potential, we will have to play like we did in Russia in order to get a result.”

The visitors are on a run of four goalless matches, having lost 1-0 at Amkar Perm on Saturday. They have only conceded three times during that run, and will most likely sit back and frustrate tomorrow night.

Having scored four against Málaga at the weekend, Atleti are now Europe’s leading goalscorers in home league matches.

Torres is yet to score a Champions League goal at the Vicente Caderón and has just 1 in 17 matches since returning to his boyhood club, but insisted that it’s not something that bothers him ahead of the clash.

“I hope to score tomorrow, but it’s not something I obsess over. My main aim is to help the team win.” he said. “It’s an important game towards qualification to the next stage. We want to finish top of the group.”

Elsewhere in the group, PSV host Bayern in a crucial match for both teams in Eindhoven. The Dutch side need a win to keep their hopes of qualification alive ahead of their trip to the Calderón in matchday five.

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

Referee: Craig Thomson (Scotland)

  • Kris

    If Gimenez is fully fit, he should probably start this match. Interesting referee in this Scottish man. Hopefully we can put on a show here, get the win and Antoine gets back to his scoring ways.

  • Mitch

    Happy to see Vrsaljko will start!