Atlético travels to Valencia to face off against newly-promoted Levante this weekend, just three days after their last match on Wednesday – but you won’t be hearing many complaints amongst Los Rojiblancos.
This match couldn’t come any sooner for Atleti, as the team will want to quickly put the past week’s pair of devastating home losses behind them.
“We have to move onwards and not drop our heads,” manager Quique Sánchez Flores told the club’s official site ahead of the clash on Saturday evening. “I’d like to get back the good sensations after these last two matches, but when things don’t go your way, like last year, you have to get dirty, roll up your sleeves, and bring out the best of every individual.”
Almost as a penance for the embarrassing midweek defeat to Aris, the team was forced to take a bus ride east due to an air traffic controller strike that led to the temporary closure of the Madrid-Barajas Airport.
Waiting for them at the Ciutat de València Stadium will be a Levante side also looking for redemption. Los Granotes enter the match following an away drubbing at Hercules which saw them drop to 16th in La Liga and left them at just a point away from the relegation zone.
Levante coach Luis García was realistic about the present state of affairs at his club.
“Hopefully we’ll never fall back into the relegation spots, but it’s going to be very tough. But any team that is there near the bottom always has more negative than positive results,” he said.
The coach then had some playful words for the club he has supported since his childhood, and where he spent some time playing in the youth system.
“As a youngster, my mother took me to see Atlético, always to suffer, and I wish them the best, that they win titles and qualify for the Champions League,” he said. “But in the two matches against Levante, I hope everything goes wrong and that they lose.”
Tiago is suspended for the meeting (5 yellow cards) and Nacho Camacho has taken the place of the Portuguese midfielder in Atleti’s match selection.
According to ESPN Soccernet, key Levante striker Christian Stuani is recovering from a foot injury sustained against Hercules and is a doubt to play, while Felipe Caicedo and Xisco Nadal are also questionable.
The two sides have not met since Levante’s last Primera División stay in the 2007-08 season, a campaign in which we took both the home and away fixtures (3-0 and 1-0).
Los Colchoneros have shut out the Valencian outfit in their last five meetings.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: De Gea and Joel
Defenders: Valera, Antonio López, Filipe Luís, Godín, Ujfalusi, Domínguez and Perea
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Camacho, Raúl García, Fran Mérida, Assunçao, Reyes and Simão
Forwards: Diego Costa, Agüero and Forlán
Referee: Alfonso J. Álvarez Izquierdo
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