Atlético want to turn the page on last week’s seven-day catastrophe on Saturday, when Deportivo La Coruña visit the Calderón.
The Colchonero nightmare started almost a fortnight ago with a home loss to Espanyol, followed by a gutting midweek defeat to Aris in front of an incredulous home crowd. The horror was capped off by a punch-less performance at Levante that left Rojiblanco fans wanting to gouge out their eyes.
Sánchez Flores’ right hand man, Fran Escribá, will be manning the coaching duties as Quique sits out the second match of his two-game suspension.
Atlético’s second-in-command sounded hopeful of his team’s chances of stopping the bleeding as they seek to derail Deportivo’s steadily improving campaign.
“We’re going to try to play a game that will bring back joy to our fans,” Escribá told the club’s official site ahead of the game.
“Deportivo is a team on the rise. They don’t create a lot of scoring chances, but it’s also true that it is very difficult to create chances against them,” he said.
After their own rough patch to start the season that saw them go winless until Halloween, the Blues and Whites have since climbed up to 12th in the table with 17 points – just three behind Atleti.
On Monday, El Depor bounced back from a disappointing road loss to Racing Santander by fighting off visitors Hercules at the Riazor with a 1-0 victory.
Filipe Luís seems set to battle it out against his former team-mates after sitting out our last match. Though the Brazilian left-back continues to compete with Antonio López for a regular starting job, Quique tested a back line composed of Ujfalusi, Perea, Dominguez and Filipe on Wednesday. This led to speculation that those lined up would be this weekend’s starting defenders.
If that turns out to be the case, Diego Godin will be the odd-man out in this weekend’s edition of the Quique Shuffle. Godín was called out by his coach at half-time against Levante, and Alvaro Dominguez, who hasn’t seen a minute of domestic league action in our last four matches, will likely be getting the nod in place of the Uruguayan.
Tiago returned to the match selection after serving a suspension last weekend. The Portuguese midfielder sustained a muscle injury earlier this week but overcame the knock in time and is expected to start.
Paulo Assuncao will be unavailable after he was handed a one-game suspension following his fifth booking of the season in our last match.
Atlético youth product Rubén Pérez, considered the “beacon of the team” by Deportivo fans, will not be suiting up for Miguel Angel Lotina’s squad because of a clause in his loan contract.
Tunisian forward Lassad Nouioui is expected to lead the attack for Lotina’s men as Adrián is doubtful with an ankle injury and Riki remains unfit to play until at least next week.
Depor supporters were excited about the possibility of Andrés Guardado making a comeback against Atleti, but the Mexican winger, who has been out since September with a hamstring injury, was ultimately dropped from the squad.
Former Rojiblanco defender Zé Castro has been dumped by Lotina for technical reasons, and Brazilian midfielder Juca will also stay back in A Coruña as he continues his recovery from an injury.
Though Atlético president Enrique Cerezo has recently said that Quique “still has the club’s full confidence,” a fourth straight loss would likely severely jeopardise the tactician’s future. If recent history is any indicator however, Quique’s job should be safe for at least another week.
The Galicians haven’t emerged victorious at the Calderón since their 1999-00 Liga title-winning season, a campaign that saw the sides finish at completely different ends of the spectrum. The six points that the SuperDepor squad took from us that year helped them lift their first and only Liga trophy, and were partially responsible for knocking us out of the top flight.
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, Tiago, Reyes and Simão
Forwards: Diego Costa, Agüero and Forlán
Projected starting line-up for Atlético: De Gea; Ujfalusi, Perea, Dominguez, Filipe; Simao, Mario Suarez, Tiago, Reyes; Aguero and Forlan
Referee: Javier Estrada Fernández
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