Atlético Madrid are back in action after the winter break on Friday, taking on Saudi Arabian side Al-Ittihad in a friendly match.
Four days before their return to competitive action, the red and whites will take to the field in Jeddah – some 5,500km from Gran Canaria where they play Las Palmas in the Copa del Rey next Tuesday.
Kick-off in the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium is set for 18:45 CET.
Eyebrows were raised when Atleti announced that they would end 2016 in Saudi Arabia, but there seems to be a lot of expectation in the middle east to watch the rojiblancos with all 62,000 tickets snapped up shortly after going on sale.
With a transfer ban starting in a few days and the new stadium still scheduled for next summer, the club are looking to maximise their increasing global profile and secure extra sources of income.
The match should serve as another chance for Simeone to experiment, possibly with the Las Palmas match in mind. A squad of 20 left on a chartered flight from the Spanish capital on Thursday afternoon.
Most of the big names will feature, including Filipe Luís who received the medical green light earlier in the day. Canteranos Rubén Fernández and Juan Moreno also make the trip.
Not involved are Alessio Cerci, who is supposedly on the verge of agreeing a move to Bologna. Diego Godín is rested, whereas Augusto, Tiago and Oblak remain injured.
According to reports, Cholo will try Juanfran on the wing as he did in our last match against Guijuelo, with Saúl partnering Gabi in the midfield and Griezmann and Gameiro up front.
Ittihad celebrate their 90th anniversary next week, and will be looking to make an impression against one of world football’s big names. They are third in the Saudi league, coming into the match on a run of six successive wins.
Manager José Luis Sierra will know Atlético and Simeone after a playing career that involved a short spell on loan at Real Valladolid and nine years in the Chilean national team.
After a five hour and 45 minute flight, the red and whites will have to adjust to a two hour time difference and 28°C heat in Jeddah, a far cry from the minus temperatures back home in Madrid.
Many players are only just back from jetting off on their winter holidays across the globe, and with a long trip to come in midweek, this isn’t the ideal preparation.
We also have an away trip in La Liga to contend with next weekend, with a tough match against Eibar who are just two places below Atleti as things stand.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Moreira
Defenders: Filipe, Savic, Vrsaljko, Lucas, Juanfran, Giménez
Midfielders: Koke, Saúl, Carrasco, Gabi, Thomas, Gaitán, Rubén, Juan Moreno
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Gameiro