Match preview: Atlético vs. Las Palmas

Colchoneros looking to preserve lead and book Copa quarter-final place

Griezmann in the squad after FIFA snub

Griezmann in the squad after FIFA snub

After their 2-0 win in the first leg last week, Atlético Madrid will be looking to finish the job and seal qualification to the Copa del Rey finals against Las Palmas on Tuesday night.

The rojiblancos have a handsome lead and two away goals on the board, but Diego Simeone is leaving nothing to chance and has named a strong squad for the clash.

Kick-off in the Vicente Calderón is set for 21:15 CET.

Now on a run of four wins in a row, confidence looks to be back at Atlético and they are starting to resemble the team we had gotten used to again, whilst experimenting new strategies along the way.

On Tuesday, they can take another step forward by booking a place in the quarter-finals of the Copa del Rey, as Las Palmas make the trip to the capital from Gran Canaria for the second leg.

Goals from Koke and Antoine Griezmann gave the red and whites a commanding first leg win on the island a week ago, and now the task is to qualify in a professional manner against Quique Setién’s side.

Cholo is expected to name a fairly strong line-up for the match, and hasn’t allowed any players a rest despite being in the midst of one of the busiest periods of the season.

Griezmann is included despite missing training on Monday to attend FIFA’s Best Player of the Year awards gala, where he was left out of the World XI despite coming third in the player’s vote.

Whether he will start or not remains to be seen, but he will most like be needed given that both Yannick Carrasco, still returning from injury and Kevin Gameiro are both out.

Gameiro has gone down with the flu, which has also affected goalkeeping coach Pablo Vercellone and youngster Juan Moreno, who has featured a lot in the matchday squads lately.

Canteranos Rubén Fernández, Keidi and Bernabé are called-up, with André Moreira and Alessio Cerci not involved as they reportedly tie up moves away from the club.

Tiago, Augusto and Oblak remain injured, whereas Thomas is missing once more due to his involvement in the African Cup of Nations which starts on Thursday.

Las Palmas have bought their entire squad to Madrid, and will stay in the mainland for their weekend clash with Barcelona rather than flying back to the Canary Islands after the game.

Whilst Setién still has fitness doubts to contend with, his only confirmed absentees are Sergio Araujo and Tyronne who are both looking for transfers during the winter window.

They returned to winning ways after their first leg loss on Saturday with a 1-0 triumph over Sporting Gijón which took them up to eighth in the table. Atleti on the other hand were 2-0 winners at Eibar.

Whoever goes through, and barring a quite incredible comeback that should be the home side, will find out their opponent for the quarter-final in the draw on Friday.

However, Las Palmas have proved themselves to be one of the best attacking sides in Spain this year, and after last year’s cup debacle against Celta, we can’t take anything for granted at the Calderón.

Atlético match selection
: Moyá, Bernabé
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Savic, Vrsaljko, Lucas, Juanfran, Giménez
Midfielders: Koke, Saúl, Gabi, Gaitán, Keidi, Rubén Fernández
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa

  • nandes

    Moreira was brought as a potential sub for Oblak because the coaching staff supposedly didn’t trust Bernabé, but now he’s leaving after playing 0 matches, while Oblak is injured with only Bernabé as a possible sub? Whaaat

    I’m kinda scared about this match

  • iamfaried

    Good to see Moreira going out on loan. He’s got too good of a potential not get minutes during a crucial phase in his career. As weird as it sounds, it’s sad to see Cerci leave. Maybe it’s because he reminds me, in aesthetics, of Forlan. Wish him the best either way.

    Don’t see any surprises in defence. However we could see Gaitan start, due to lack of midfielders, so that’s a positive. Unless Juanfran is fielded on the right, with Josema as anchorman. Which might be the case as Cholo will look to defend his 2 goal advantage and pounce on the break.

    In attack, I believe Torres and Correa to start as Grizzi didn’t attend training.

    This is how I think the lineup will look:

    Moya – Vrsa Savkee Godin Lucas – Juanfran Josema Gabi Gaitan – Torres Correa.

    I think he’ll rest Filipe, Saul and Koke but might introduce the latter two in the second half to secure the middle and see out the game.

    ¡Aupa Atléti!

  • iamfaried

    Because at that time Moya was injured for a long time. However it is understood Oblak will come back sooner than expected. The same happened with Cech’s similar surgery.

  • nandes

    Well that makes sense. I was thinking Oblak could be out until April or something

  • Gol

    Starting XI

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Moya’s injury has nothing to do with what Nandes is saying, the coaching staff didn’t trust Bernabe as our backup GK, but now it seems they are, Bernabe will be on the bench tonight while Moreira is leaving, and Oblak could be back in three months -from now, or since his injury- which is the same time Moya was out, so the question still stands, what happened?!

    And this is a news to me, I didn’t hear anything about Moreira’s departure, I looked it up right now and I found nothing, anybody has any source or any more information, is he being sold or loaned, did he fail to convince Cholo and Mono?!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I will not get carried away by those 4 consecutive wins (and I don’t care if I’m gonna be called negative, I’m being called that whatever I say), a very difficult 1-0 at home against La Plamas, a win against a Segunda B side, another win against Las Palmas but this time when Quique didn’t consider it a priority and was probably thinking about the Europa League spots in La Liga, Boateng didn’t start, Jonathan Viera and Roque Mesa didn’t finish the game, Momo who has 3 goals in La Liga and didn’t play and Marko Livaja who has 4 goals and 3 assists wasn’t called (not sure so if he was available), and finally a controversial win against Eibar.

    There are still many things that need to change, and I don’t mean playing Gimenez in the middle or Juanfran on the wing, with all due respect to many people who wrote about that as tactical tweaks or put Gimenez in a poll about who should partner Gabi in the middle, to me, this is simply a necessity.
    Simeone lost Tiago, Augusto & Thomas at the same time, and he must have at least 4 CM at his disposal, so he tried Gimenez, just like he played Saul as a CB last season under similar circumstances.
    While for Juanfran, I think Simeone saw that Vrsaljko is a better option right now as a RB, but couldn’t bench Juanfran because of his weight in the team (and I can understand that, seriously, I’m not being sarcastic, what if it was Gabi or Godin or Koke instead of Juanfran in that situation) so he put him on the wing.
    That’s one reason, while the other is that he was afraid to lose Koke or Saul or Carrasco and had no options on the AM positions, since Thomas can also fill that position, and because he could need Koke or Saul in the middle, and because he obviously doesn’t trust Gaitan. And he did lose Carrasco for injury, while Koke is one yellow away from suspension in La Liga.

    So, I repeat, I believe Gimenez in the middle and Juanfran on the wing was just necessity, because we don’t lack good wingers, and because we din’t have a problem in the midfield, Gabi-Koke and even Koke-Saul worked very well in many games at the beginning of the season, including the games against Barca and Bayern, we only conceded one goal against Sevilla, we gave away two silly penalties against La Real, and we collapsed against Real Madrid after Simeone committed a huge mistake and took off Gabi.
    Our midfield was fine in my opinion, our main problems were two things:
    1- The individual mistakes from our defenders, especially Savic, but yet he kept playing and Gimenez kept sitting on the bench.
    2- The lack of creativity, the inability to control the ball and control the game, which put us under pressure in every game and against all opponents, and pressure makes you make mistakes.

    A lot still need to change, I will not get carried away, on Sunday night I was supporting Barca against Villarreal like they were Atleti, because I’m still very worried to lose the CL spots to Villarrea and Sevilla.

  • AndersAT

    I must say, that despite the 4 wins, this team does not at the moment resemble the Atletico of the last couple of seasons. We are much less tight in defensive, and our attacking football is still not as good as it used to be (even though it hasn’t been great for a long time now).

    But we are improving, and I hope we continue tonight. If Correa and Gaitan doesn’t start in a game like this, I will get a little worried about their future in the club. For me, the only reason not to start them is if he doesn’t think they should stay at the club or to keep continuity, but I still think that would be a wrong choice since we have a tight schedule, and we just risk injury.

  • iamfaried

    True, it’s really hard for Simeone to trust someone but when he does it takes everything for him to lose trust.

    Yeah sure simeone sticks to his trusted players, but some would say it’s better than always changing your lineup. Within limits of course. We’ve all seen other managers that wins a game, and then the next changes his lineup because he thinks he’s a genius and ends up losing. And I think you know that the most since you watch Egyptian football. The “fahlawa” factor.

    Regarding Juanfran, and for this matter both fullbacks and lack of creativity, there’s a not so obvious point behind it. Think back to Cholos early seasons. On left he had Filipe and Arda and on the right Juanfran and Diego. When both fullbacks were inform the flanks were very dangerous. Most of our open play goals were in fact from the flanks. Both RM and LM positions were changed but two things remains constant Filipe and Juanfran. They are the heart of the team, unlike how many believe it’s Gabi or Godin, not to belittle their impact.

    When Filipe moved to Chelsea, our left flank was obsolete thus simeone focused more on the right flank. Which proves the fullbacks importance in simeone’s tactics.

    Now both fullbacks are getting older, with Filipe being almost invisible in the final third most of the time. Juanfran still has some kick left in him so he’s still somewhat effective in the final third.

    With the fullbacks both not being the same level they were before, our team seems to lack creativity or chances created. But look back to our stats, most goals did come from the flanks, unless it was a set piece or quick counter.

    Now that we know the importance of the fullback to Cholo, it will take a whole lot for him to trust someone to take either fullbacks place. So the fact that Vrsa is playing at RB says a lot about his ability. And I think Simeone wants both him and Juanfran on the pitch so the Croatian learns how things are done on the flank from the experienced Spaniard.

    Moving on to Gaitan, Correa, Cerci, Jackson, Jiminez, Mandzu and Vietto.

    Gaitan will be playing more often now, just wait and see. It’s not so easy to fit right in, especially into simeones squad, coming from a different league.
    Correa is great and believe I want him to always be on the pitch, but he’s still young and lacks confidence. He’s a great dribble but he can’t hold up play or keep possession. Also his final touch is not so great.
    Cerci’ attitude and approach cost him his place. He has skill but he doesn’t have the “kill myself for my teammates” attitude.
    Jackson would’ve been playing and got on the scoresheet hadn’t an offer from China come. The offer was too good to gamble on. The problem with him is that Cholo threw him in way too early. And coming from a different league is hard for someone to adapt so quickly. So Cholo decided it’d be better for him to sit out. If continued playing without scoring it would’ve destroyed his self esteem.
    Jiminez and Vietto didn’t get much of chance in my opinion. Although I don’t see either becoming a world class player, and maybe that’s my humble opinion. It was a gamble that didn’t pay off.
    Mandzu is different case. I actually think he was doing well. It was his decision to leave. Who could turn down Juve?

    So we before we start busting Simeone’s balls, we must first understand how his tactics work? What stadium he’s playing at? What the weather is like? Who is his opposition? Who is the other manager? What are their tactics? Who’s been training well? Who fits the scenarios of this game? And who’s ready to make a difference?

  • Vagabond Messi

    Reason we failed at posession football is simple , we lose ball and control of game , this team needs someone who can distribute the ball and run the game. Our cms are not capable of doing that.imho , our scouts need to find someone like Modric or Veratti , or develop Oliver Torres. Strikers were never problem , even MSN don’t do that good when their midfield doesn’t dominate and Messi has to drop deeper to recycle and disteibute ball. Every Atleti fan and his dog was convinced that strikers are / were the problem. Let’s face it every forward need service , Even the likes of Ronaldo , in Madrid over 70 percent of his goal came from first touch, that speaks volume about chances his team creates for him , not counting his attempts at goal. Very idea that 4 uncreative but defensively good cms and a great striker upfront will make you a super team is flawed.

  • Hannu

    I thought that Mandzu was forced to leave because Simeone didnt like him and I quess everybody thought that we can find better which we didnt!

  • Gol

    How would this starting XI work after all the players get back from injuries etc. ?

  • Kris

    Not very well.

  • Karlp

    is this real life?

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Almost every atleti fan sir.. I never blamed the strikers actually. But carry on