Coming off a rough week in which they drew at home against Espanyol and lost at Bayern Munich in the Champions League, Atlético return to action on Monday night at Villarreal.
After a week in which they announced a number of changes affecting the future of the club, Atleti now need to focus on the present and get a result that could get their league season back on track.
Kick-off in the Madrigal is set for 20:45 CET.
Atlético will try to get back on the scoresheet early in this one after goalless outings in their last two matches mean they have gone more than 180 minutes without finding the back of the net.
The rojiblancos also failed to score in both outings against the Yellow Submarine last season, and could drop as low as sixth if they fall to another defeat on the east coast.
Augusto, Alessio Cerci, and Filipe Luis continue to miss time due to injury, but Fernando Torres could make his first appearance since Atlético’s 3-0 loss to Real Madrid on November 19th.
Villarreal have suffered mixed results lately. They won 2-1 over Steaua Bucuresti in the Europa League on Thursday and 3-0 at Toledo in the Copa del Rey on November 30th, but drew 0-0 at Leganés in their latest league match on December 3rd.
Former Atlético assistant Fran Escribá is in his first season at the club and has been using a 4-4-2 lineup. Sergio Asenjo starts in goal with Jaume Costa, Victor Ruiz, Mateo Mussachio and Mario along the back.
Roberto Soriano, Bruno, Manu Trigueros, and Samu Castillejo man the midfield with Nicola Sansone and Alexandre Pato in the forward roles.
Atleti youth product Rodri, Jonathan dos Santos, Cédric Bakambu have also seen time depending on the match-up, as has Rafael Santos Borré who is on loan from the rojiblancos and has been cleared to play.
Last year, fellow Atleti loanee Léo Baptistão was allowed to line-up for the hosts against his parent club and scored the winning goal, so Simeone and his team will be hoping that lightning doesn’t strike twice.
With five goals, summer signing Nicola Sansone leads the team in goals with five so far this season. Bruno and Roberto Soriano have three each.
Simeone spoke about the match in his press conference, taking questions about the club’s controversial new crest and on the pitch matters going into the clash.
“Evolution is a continuous process in the world,” he responded. “Sometimes we are reactionary about change and that’s normal, because we are used to what we have always had, but I think we have to concentrate on tomorrow’s game.”
“Villarreal are used to competing well and playing dynamic football, particularly from midfield to attack, and they are a side who play well collectively. They’re dangerous because they play good football.”
Atlético will know their Champions League opponents by the time the match kicks off, with the draw for the last 16 taking place in Nyon at midday.
The Ballon d’Or Ceremony also takes place on Monday, with Antoine Griezmann set to take the Bronze Ball behind Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Oblak, Moyá
Defenders: Godín, Savic, Vrsaljko, Lucas, Juanfran, Giménez
Midfielders: Tiago, Koke, Saúl, Carrasco, Gabi, Thomas, Gaitán
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Gameiro