Atlético Madrid return to competitive action after a brief winter break on Tuesday night, taking on Las Palmas in the first leg of their Copa del Rey last 16 tie.
Diego Simeone’s men will be looking to start the new year with a win in the Canary Islands, having beaten the same opposition 1-0 in their last league match of 2016 just over two weeks ago.
Kick-off is set for 21:15 CET.
Atlético haven’t quite had things all their own way in recent months, but after a short break and a couple of wins under the belt there is hopefully a platform for the team to push on and challenge for titles this season.
One of those titles is the Copa del Rey, which the rojiblancos won famously for a tenth time against Real Madrid at the Bernabéu back in 2013.
This year the draw has been kind to Atleti, and although they face a good Las Palmas side in the last 16, the rest of the top 7 have all been drawn against each other, which could pave a route to the latter stages for whoever goes through.
However, Cholo‘s thinking will as usual only be on the next game and he has named a full strength squad for the trip, suggesting that he is taking the cup very seriously.
Most of the team were in action last Friday in the 3-2 friendly win over Al-Ittihad in Saudi Arabia, where the Argentine tactician tested out a few new strategies with this game in mind.
Juanfran is likely to start again on the right wing, with Sime Vrsaljko behind him. Saúl is set to partner Gabi in midfield, although Jose Giménez could be another option after his impressive cameo in Jeddah.
French duo Kevin Gameiro and Antoine Griezmann are likely to get the nod again up front, both of whom struggling for form and without a goal since November.
Not included is top scorer Yannick Carrasco after he suffered an achilles injury in training, and Thomas, who is off to the African Nations Cup this week. Cerci is left out as he looks to seal a move to Bologna.
Jan Oblak, Augusto and Tiago remain injured, but Filipe Luís is fit to play his first competitive match in almost a month. Teenage midfielder Juan Moreno is also called up.
Las Palmas are in the midst of a bit of a selection crisis of their own, with a number of players unlikely to play both due to fitness, health and bureaucratic issues.
According to manager Quique Setién; three players (Pedro Bigas, Javi Varas and Montoro) are suffering from illness, Tana is injured, Araujo and Boateng may or may not be fit and Míchel is in Brazil with permission from the club.
“The team isn’t in great shape,” he said in his press conference. “We have two competitions and an important league match on Saturday, but will still show our face in the cup and give everything we can.”
Atleti also return to La Liga action on Saturday, with a tough trip to Ipurúa to face Eibar. The return leg against Las Palmas takes place at the Vicente Calderón next Tuesday night.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Moreira
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Savic, Vrsaljko, Lucas, Juanfran, Giménez
Midfielders: Koke, Saúl, Gabi, Gaitán, Juan Moreno
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Gameiro