Atlético arrived into the frigid conditions of Trondheim early on Wednesday in preparation for their Europa League Matchday 4 clash against local side Rosenborg BK.
Los Rojiblancos are coming off a frustrating home draw versus Almería last Sunday that nonetheless bumped them up to sixth place in La Liga, whilst Rosenborg rides into its Lerkendal stadium heads-held-high having clinched the Norwegian Premier League title for the 22nd time just 10 days ago.
The Norwegian side are currently bottom of Group B and are desperately in need of three points. They are unbeaten in the last six games at home in Europe.
Quique Sánchez Flores’ men will want to stay on course to qualify through the group stage having finally found the light in their third attempt in Europa League action downing Rosenborg 0-3 at the Vicente Calderón two weeks ago.
Playing at Rosenborg’s icy venue will prove to be a much more challenging undertaking this time around however, and the pressure remains on Atleti to keep mounting up points in order to maintain hopes of a title defense alive.
Los Colchoneros will have to step up their game as they will be without key players José Antonio Reyes, out with a minor calf injury, and Diego Godín, who is recovering from his appendectomy.
Diego Forlan suffered a minor ankle sprain in training on Tuesday but still travelled with the squad to Norway. It remains unclear whether Quique will risk playing him ahead of Sunday’s derby.
The Uruguayan reportedly insisted on being included in the match selection, despite recommendations from the club medical staff to keep him in Madrid.
One thing is for sure: our little Argentine wizard will start. Kun triumphantly returned from a month lay-off when Rosenborg visited the Calderón, scoring seconds after being unleashed onto the pitch. The wonderkid then set up a goal minutes later.
Rosenborg coach Nils Arne Eggen warned his defenders ahead of tomorrow’s tie that they must remain focused if they plan on stopping Agüero and co.
“We’re going to have to stop them before they can gain speed,” said coach Eggen.
“Agüero isn’t much worse than Messi when he takes off with the ball. We’re going to have to stay close on him before he can do anything.
“He’s the player that we worry about the most,” he said.
Given the key absences in Atlético’s squad, Quique had to do a little patchwork by calling upon Atlético B reinforcements Koke and Jorge Pulido.
The 19-year old Pulido was thrilled to be included in the first team European match selection, a first for the young Atlético cantera product.
“It’s a lovely experience to travel with the team to Norway,” he told the club’s official site.
“We hope to go there and win, just like we did last time at the Calderón.”
According to an EFE report, Fran Mérida will replace Reyes in the lineup and Antonio López is expected to get the nod in place of Filipe Luís.
Defender Juan Valera is back with the squad having recovered from the thigh injury he suffered the last time we played Rosenborg.
Atlético’s 20-player match selection:
Goalkeepers: De Gea and Joel
Defenders: Valera, Antonio López, Filipe Luís, Ujfaluši, Domínguez, Perea and Pulido
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Camacho, Raúl García, Fran Mérida, Assunçao, Simão and Koke
Forwards: Forlán, Agüero and Diego Costa
Probable starting lineups:
Atlético: De Gea; Ujfaluši, Perea, Domínguez, Antonio López; Fran Mérida, Assunçao, Raúl García, Simão; Diego Costa and Agüero.
Rosenborg: Örlund; Lustig, Bjärsmyr, Demidov, Dorsin; Henriksen, Annan, Skjelbred; Moldskred, Iversen and Prica.
Referee: Vladislav Bezborodov (RUS)
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