After conceding three goals in the home leg and just squeezing past Las Palmas in the Copa del Rey in midweek, Atlético return to La Liga action on Saturday as Real Betis visit the Calderón.
The rojiblancos will be looking to return to winning ways and make up ground on the top three, as fixture congestion starts to take it’s toll on the teams involved in all three competitions.
Kick-off in the Spanish capital is set for 18:30 CET.
Four straight wins and Antoine Griezmann’s first goal since November 23rd had Atlético confident and with high hopes before the slip-up on Tuesday.
Atlético will try to return to the strong defensive foundations that helped them win four in a row, a stretch in which they conceded only one consolation goal against Guijuelo. The three allowed goals against Las Palmas were certainly not a recipe for success.
Diego Simeone rested a few players for that match, but will likely start a full strength eleven on Saturday judging by reports from training in the last few days.
Augusto Fernández, Jan Oblak, Tiago and Lucas Hernández continue to miss on injuries while Thomas Partey is still away for the African Cup of Nations.
The Argentine boss confirmed in his pre-match press conference that Fernando Torres and Nico Gaitán will feature from the start. Yannick Carraco is also back from injury, and youngster Keidi features in the squad again.
Meanwhile, despite doing well in the pivot at Eibar last weekend, it looks as if José Giménez will drop back to the bench with Saúl and Gabi holding the midfield.
Vrsaljko should also get the nod over Juanfran again, who came in for criticism for his defending for both of Las Palmas’ late goals on Tuesday.
Betis manager Victor Sánchez is in his first season at the club after taking over from Gus Poyet in November. He has employed a 5-3-2 lineup recently.
Antonio Adán starts in goal with Rafa Navarro, Bruno, Germán Pezzella, José Carlos and Riza Durmisi along the back. Jonas Martin, Petros and Dani Ceballos are the midfielders with Antonio Sanabria and Rubén Castro in the forward roles.
The predatory Castro leads the team with eight goals so far on the season. They like to spread the ball around as ten different players have hit the back of the net so far this season.
Atlético handled this fixture easily last year, winning 5-1 with goals from Fernando Torres, Juanfran, Thomas Partey and a brace for Antoine Griezmann. They also took the away fixture with Koke scoring early for a 1-0 result.
Betis have always had a close relationship with Atlético, and before the game they will pay homage to the Vicente Calderón on their final visit to the stadium, where they won the Copa del Rey in 1977 and 2005.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Bernabé
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Savic, Vrsaljko, Juanfran, Giménez
Midfielders: Koke, Saúl, Carrasco, Gabi, Gaitán, Keidi
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Gameiro