Match preview: Atlético vs. Celta

Atleti hope to revive their campaign with the spark ignited during Barca tie

Atleti looking for repeat of September's 4-0 win

Atleti looking for repeat of September's 4-0 win

Fresh off of a Copa del Rey semi-final tie which saw Atletico fall 3-2 in the aggregate to their Catalan rivals, Atletico’s 2016/17 campaign is at a crossroads.

On Sunday, the rojiblancos take on Celta Vigo needing a win to move back into the top four after Real Sociedad’s win on Friday night.

Kick-off in the Calderón is set for 20:45 CET.

Going into winter break, serious questions were raised by lackluster league performances against Espanyol (0-0 draw), Villareal (3-0 defeat) and Las Palmas (1-0 victory) which cast a shadow over the squad’s hopes to challenge for La Liga dominance.

The back four had become prone to simple mistakes and broken concentration. Griezmann struggled to get involved with no one stepping up to shoulder the goalscoring burden.

Koke had difficulty with moving the squad up the pitch and connecting with his passes. It became unclear whether the team’s movement away from a holistic full press was the mark of a tactical shift from Simeone or a sign of fatigue.

Atleti’s form during a January loaded with two Copa and League matches a week did little to answer the lingering questions about the squad as they went 4-1-3 against a series of mid-table opposition. The team looked uninspired.

Looking only at the results of the Copa del Rey semi-final matches against Barca, one might conclude that elimination from the Copa was the natural result of a struggling side.

Anyone who watched the matches, including Gabi who was sidelined from the second leg due to suspension will tell you otherwise.

Starting with Atleti’s second-half resurgence at the Calderón, the colchoneros asserted their dominance against Barca in a set of shining performances that should make AtléticoFans hopeful that Atleti has finally emerged from the shadow of poor form.

Simeone now sets his sights on Celta in a match which may indicate whether the CDR was a reclamation of “partido a partido” or simply a rise to the occasion of facing Barcelona in a knock-out stage.

When Celta and Atleti faced off this past September, los rojiblancos dismantled Eduardo Berizzo’s side netting four second half goals at the Balaidos after a fairly balanced first 45’.

This should not give Atleti any comfort as Celta has had a superb run of form since the winter break. Since December, the celestes have knocked out Valencia and Real Madrid from the Copa del Rey and have dropped points only to La Real who are currently sitting one spot ahead of Atleti in the table after their victory on Friday.

Berizzo was even recognized as manager of the month of January by La Liga Santander for his club’s efforts.

What to watch

The Savic-Lucas Partnership

Diego Godin is ineligible for Sunday’s match due to a thigh muscle injury suffered against Barca. Jose María Giménez will ultimately be joining Simeone’s bench for the first time since he suffered a groin injury at Alaves 2 weeks ago after a mid-week infection cast doubt as to whether he could make his return this match.

This forces Simeone to call on a basically untested Savic and Lucas partnership who have been facing their own challenges (Savic’s footballing in nature as he has been guilty of an increasing number of mistakes in recent matches and Lucas’ legal as he has been charged with domestic abuse for a late-night struggle with his girlfriend) to sort out an attack led by Iago Aspas.

El Niño

Fernando Torres is likely to get the nod as a starter in Sunday’s match after a string of his best performances of the 2016/17 season. Torres’ brace against Leganes was decisive in los Rojiblanco’s last league match and he nearly got his name on the scoreline with a couple of good chances on goal in the first leg against Barca.

Torres, more than any other player, can answer for fans whether the XI is back to partido a partido or whether we see a dip in the team’s intensity.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Moreira
Defenders: Filipe, Savic, Vrsaljko, Lucas, Juanfran, Giménez
Midfielders: Koke, Saúl, Gabi, Carrasco, Thomas, Gaitán
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Gameiro


  • Antonio Conte

    Correa-Gameiro-Griezmann
    Carrasco-Koke-Thomas-Gaitán
    Savic-Lucas-Giménez
    Moreira

  • Antonio Conte

    This could also work. Simeone decides.

    Carrasco-Torres-Griezmann
    Gaitán-Koke-Thomas-Juanfran
    Savic-Lucas-Giménez
    Moreira

  • Celta has pacey forwards that must be tightly marked, as well as Aspas who must be closed down on. Their midfield are quite creative too and their defence is solid. Mallo will be instrumental in offensive build up and must be marked tightly.

    That being said the optimum formation, imho, is:

    Moya – Juanfran Savic Josema Filipe – Correa Saul Gabi Koke – Torres Grizzi.

    With Gaitan andCarrasco introduced to add any lacking creativity on the flanks; Gameiro if the game requires a mobile forward and Thomas when locking up shop.

  • Torres

    Hope Torres starts again..
    nd score a couple….TORRESFOREVER..

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    I hope we continue with the intensity seen in the game and a half against Barca.

    Aupa Atleti!

  • Hannu

    I hope Lucas starts with Gimenez if fit.
    Moya
    Vrsaljko-Gimenez-Lucas-Filipe
    Juanfran-Gabi-Koke-Gaitan
    Grizi-Torres
    Substitutes:
    Carrasco for Gaitan
    Correa for Juanfran
    Saul or Thomas for?

  • Antonio Conte

    Thomas for Gabi. Moreira should start though. He’s 1.95 and young. Give him a chance. A 3-4-3 like mine at Chelsea wouldn’t be bad either.

  • Zinni DUDU

    Inshallah Torres scores tonight and keeps his form going, because we need him inform if want to suceed in the champions league. With Gameiro we are going to end at place 6 or 7

  • Joerrr

    if you’d do the contechelsea i’d pick these

    Correa-Griez-Carra
    Fil-Koke-Gabi-Juan
    Lucas-Gimé-Savic
    Moyá

    Lucas and Savic have some fullback experience so I’d put Josema in the most central position by default/in possession. I picked Juan because he can fill in the winger position too.

    Maybe Torres instead of Carrasco, but here I chose for agility and pace up front, would perhaps help adapt to changes in positioning, but what do I know.

    Second half Gaitán could come on for more attacking prowess, or when reverting to 442 and a return of Thomas would be nice for Gabi. Saúl would be the go to sub when someone’s injured, even in defense (if theyre not reverting to 442 or 433).

    Anyway this won’t happen and I think a little more rest for Giménez would be beneficial, so it’d be best if he isn’t as needed yet. Also I don’t know if Atleti would like this formation, its a whole different organization.

  • Karlp

    legend

  • Koke

    To the people that commented about wanting to see Torres score… boy, did you get your wish. What a fucking legend, I wish he could stay forever.

  • Mitch

    What a spectacular goal from Torres!

  • Karlp

    seriously???? (this post is for the penalty)

  • Koke

    Do the Atleti players play crossbar challenge whenever they take penalties? Do they get paid to hit the post? I don’t understand why nobody can think to lean over the ball and aim low…

  • Karlp

    we will never score another penalty again, aren’t we?

  • Roberto

    This penalty missing, is stupiditly inefficient. Horrible, disgusting!

  • Kris

    Saul again the worst player on the pitch. Don’t know why Simeone insists on playing him.

  • Vagabond Messi

    You’re a hater , just shut up .

  • Zinni DUDU

    Torres showing that he is pure rojiblanco missing a penalty and scoring a beatuiful goal.

  • Vagabond Messi

    These penalties are killing us , we’ll go 5th against if we don’t win today.

  • jodo

    It never fails, Torres will do something amazing in a game…and then do something equally un-amazing. The Curse of the Penalty.

  • jodo

    Who was designated the PK taker? I’m reading on Twitter that Carrasco and Torres argued over who should take it? Who was out of line?

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Lol

  • Vagabond Messi

    How dare people question Handsome Saul’s divine right to start every single match ? I was too blind to see just his on field performance only. I was a hater for ignoring his great looks , hair and style.

  • Karlp

    Filipe hasn’t been that good since his injury last Nov

  • Karlp

    9 out of 10 of Vrsaljko’s passes is a really good pass.

  • Karlp

    Lucas has been most impressive

  • Karlp

    at last

  • Karlp

    carrasco again not passing at a very good chance. This what makes people like me keep criticizing him.

  • Karlp

    Filipe’s fault for the 2nd goal. Should keep up with guidetti

  • Roberto

    It is not funny to watch atleti this year. They are still stoned and traumatized because of the milan final in may. I do not have the feeling that they believe in their abilities anymore. Simeone has not anymore this positive agressive winning spirit, he seems just to be frustrated. Against Barca they did not make the 2:1 to achieve the overtime, because they simply did not go for it with faith. After the 1:1 they were shocked, because they suddenly had the chance to win and they did not know how to act now. In the end tey were just happy that they could say the reporters and journalists that they played as steong as barca. Typical looser attitudes. Completely different to atleti from 2012 to 2016!

  • Vagabond Messi

    I pointed out this before, he would’ve been thrown on bench if he kept such selfish play in team like Barca. It’s ok to go for selfish play when match is in bag but when you need win then you gotta pass it to player in better position.He did same in cl final.

  • atleti lover

    Very very very bad second half. Greizmann is so bad just go Fuck yourself to man it’d.
    Hope we can play europa league next year

  • Vagabond Messi

    Yeah Griezmann would just produce goal outta his arse when your midfield does fk all match.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Haha now trailing . When will Simeone start rotating players. They look unmotivated and tired.

  • Karlp

    great shoot carrasco. 2 golazo today

  • Vagabond Messi

    Our midfield has not been shielding our defense like they used to . Bring back Augusto , bench Saul.

  • Aqil Azhan

    Wow the greatest comeback

  • Karlp

    thank god. one of our best comeback.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Griezmann with a winner .Great, that’s the intensity we like to see.

  • Aqil Azhan

    Gameiro and Griezmann is back.

  • Squinty63

    Goal x2 !!!! Love this team that always giving me a heart attack!

  • Karlp

    not defensive-wise actualy (I post this before Celta’s 2nd goal), but attacking-wise. His crossing and other hasn’t been that good. Defensive-wise besides this Celta’s 2nd goal, Filipe actually has been good.

  • Kris

    What the fuck just happened? Did we just make a comeback?

  • Vagabond Messi

    I’m talking about our whole defense . our defenders are not getting shielded well by our midfielders like last season. Opposition cut us like knife. Let’s see how we improve when Augusto returns.

  • Karlp

    Lucas MoTM
    Torres, Savic, Carrasco, Gabi, Koke, Vrsaljko good
    Griez beside his goal is very invisible

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    My God that game made me fuck my voice up

  • Karlp

    I don’t even remember the last time we make a comeback from losing to winning in dying minutes

  • AnonX

    Really whats up comparing with barca in Atleti’s page ?!!

  • Koke

    Incredible game. So happy for Torres, but we seriously need to find a penalty taker. Carrasco? Koke? Gabi? A team that cannot score penalties can always find a way to lose the CL, no matter how good they are.

    Great goal from Carrasco. He’s been working so hard lately but a lot of things he tried haven’t been coming off. He has amazing potential, but needs to know when to pass. He also deserves an assist for setting up Gameiro.

    Gameiro, great awareness to set up Griezmann. But he really needs to bury his chances, this can’t keep happening. Griezmann was pretty invisible today besides his goal, but can’t fault him. I wouldn’t mind seeing him rested for Correa in an easier game.

    All in all, wonderful match. I used to be shocked to see us concede two, but now it’s just a normal thing. At least, for once, we were able to score 3 goals in a match. 3 beautiful ones, too.

  • Zinni DUDU

    Well Gameiro did something special with the hit on the crossbar. I think hitting the crossbar is much more difficult than hitting the back of the net

  • Joa Andrew

    Oh my god, I was starting to lose faith, but after that Carrasco goal..let’s keep on going @_@

  • Kris

    It really is beautiful to see El Nino score. Don’t know why he only decides to turn up after February…

  • Kris

    Carrasco wanted to take it because he won it, but Torres said I’m gonna take it. You can’t say no to Torres…

  • Khan

    Two crucial goals in last five minutes, last one from courtesy of tactical substitute changes(beautiful play from Correa and Kevin to feed Griezmann) . Torres goal was nostalgic. Carrasco will surely find enormous confidence in coming matches with that goal.
    That’s true fighting spirit of Simeone And Atletico!
    Seriously sensing a good finish at the end of the season until and unless something is done with crossbar! (Annoying week after week)

  • Karlp

    Missing Augusto has weakened our defense, but some of our defender (especially Savic & Godin) has been sub-par this season.

    As much as I miss Augusto, his comeback most probably will bring back 4CMs, and I will be frustate watching our game again.

  • AnonX

    Was about to say, I am sensing a comeback. True Colchoneros will always smell blood. Typical Atleti’s Fightback but we’ve conceded stupid goals uncharastically. Savic-Lucas partnership wasn’t strong.

  • AnonX

    Gabi !

  • Vagabond Messi

    I want Carrasco to take it, he has the right ego and mentality. oy thing i dislike in him is his reluctance to pass when there’s player in better position.

  • AnonX

    That was once in a decade goal that usually always come from Legendary Players. I’ve seen many over 3 decades and this is Definitely One of Them. That was only two touches froma difficult impossible position. A Classic.

  • Hannu

    I think Lucas was good but Savic has been pretty bad for while now.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Yeah let’s compare us to Osasuna. We’re talking about players need to pass when there’s better option.This shouldn’t be tolerated in big team. I’m a big fan of Carrasco that doesn’t mean his game is faultless.

  • Vagabond Messi

    No, he should take place of Saul, plain and simple. We need a CM who plays as CM period. We don’t need to field an extra CM because another CM can’t play like CM.

  • Karlp

    Do you seriously think Saul will be benched? Simeone is trying to keep the spanish numbers in the squad. And as he doesn’t like Oliver and there’s no other young Spanish talent in our squad, Saul will keep his place.

  • [email protected]@AaX

    I pointed this out and many more way before you ever did come to this page. Perhaps last year without ever needing to compare with shit team like barca but Just with our usual standard which has always more offensive than barca for more than past decade I’ve been with the exception is under Simeone.
    We choose Carrasco, Saul and whoever who bleed for this Badge anytime anyhow over anything barca kid !

    Show more respect and patience here and if you can’t take setbacks and challenges, go whine back to camp Nou.

    Nothing Rises to Challenge like Atleti.

    You are lost messi,

    Better Still, Get lost !

  • Vagabond Messi

    Noone is talking about Oliver now. play with 3 Cm with Augusto, Koke,Gabi. I know Simeone will not bench Saul even if it’s a useless match , but as of now he’s not playing good enough to warrant a place over Koke,Gabi,Saul,Or even Thomas.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Lol bad trolling

  • AnonX

    Speak of yourself. Everybody knows who is the uninvited troll around here. You are lost vagabond. This is Calderon.

  • [email protected]@AnonX

    We are never but more than Happy having more and more Atleti fans come in to talk first and foremost about the Team here.

    Kris, Koke, Chewie, Ahmad, Jeronamo, AndersT, Aileen, Starvs, Ringo, Atleti10, Nick, Roberto, me and many more have been regular here since before and after we lift Our Historic La Liga Title 3 years back all through joy and pain, agony and ecstasy. Sometimes sleepless nights both good and bad result. Hell, I think some of them actually went to the 2014, 2016 Champions League Finals.

    Although there are many good objective and positive criticisms here, please be forewarned that this has been the path of being an Atleti Fan. You got to ride along the path of adversity and suffering (mostly stupid ones) and pass through it before you can Attain the Unrivaled Bliss of Triumph.

    All the while Together.

    So lets Go, Aupa ATLETI !!

    (By the way, I am hoping Ahmad’s account isn’t somehow hijacked)

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I’m here, I just was busy with some personal stuff and with Egypt at AFCON, and I’ve been experience some problems with my internet connection lately, my routers (plural) keep breaking down!!
    That son of a bitch did’t hijack me, I don’t think he can, he isn’t that smart, he is just impersonating me, and there are many easy ways to tell the difference.

    Plus, I feel that I’ve said all what I wanted to say over and over again and I’m just repeating myself. Almost all my complaints happened again tonight, Koke on the band, Saul in the line-up, Correa & Gaitan on the bench, Carrasco’s awful last touch (despite the goal), late substitutions, 3 CMs, etc.
    Even my “positive” remarks (for me, all my remarks are positive) like always giving Gabi the credit he deserves when many people don’t, and like my opinion about Torres, in the middle between the haters and the fangirls have also been repeated too many times.
    Those are the reasons why I haven’t been commenting a lot lately.

    But I will never go away, and I’m sorry for those who were so excited thinking that I’m gone.

    And since I’ve already wrote a comment, let me finish it with this:
    With tonight’s spirit, we can finally win the Champions League.
    With tonight’s line-up and performance, we are gonna get knocked out by Bayer (probably by shootouts!) and we will finish 5th or maybe 6th in La Liga.
    I wish this heroic win does not mask our many and big problem more than they already are.
    I am very worried about our next game against Gijon who are 18th on the table right now, and I think many people feel the same, and that is just not right.

  • AaX

    Good! Now I can rest.

  • Vagabond Messi

    It’s pathetic to see some Fanboys attacking other fans here because we dared criticise their beloved Saul. I said i’ll not criticise him anymore , yet some of you come out and attack me. You dont know a sht if you think i’m a troll here.

  • Vagabond Messi

    Hey man what’s your problem, i stopped criticising your love Saul but it seems you’re still hurt over my previous criticism. What a fking coward you’re. You come out now to attack me. Do me a favour and gtfo here. Don’t tell me how big of a fan you’re. Keep it to yourself.

  • Vagabond Messi

    I stopped criticising Saul but after your attack on me i gotta say somehing “your comments are as sht as saul’s performance on the pitch”

  • Hannu

    What a martyr..

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    How about your rest on deez nuts

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    You’re still a faggot.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Shut up you fucking cunt! Go back to camp nou you little shit. Your username is Messi ffs! You’re a fucking cum stain!

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    I would like to say to the people calling me a Muslim brotherhood member that I’m an atheist. I don’t even believe in their allah.
    I’m also gay and I love having black dicks in my mouth. Morsy sucks dicks as well as everyone who disagrees. Fuck you all and fuck me in the chilly ring like the queer I am.

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Just continue with your analysis, I agree with some of the things you pointed out and i disagree with some but it’s all good, just don’t let different opionons get to you, we’re all Atleti fans after all

  • Jeronamo Pakor Jones

    Well said… I actually didn’t even realise the years have been rolling by like this lol.

    I too wasn’t pleased with the starting line up because of the repeated reasons, however I did ask for the intensity and that’s what I got. I blamed Felipe for that second goal we conceded and Savic as well, we also need to spend extra time on our penalty taking in training but most worrying is this continued madness of repeating the three cm nonsense, I just don’t get how Simeone can be so stubborn when something so obvious is in front of his eyes