Atlético Madrid need to turn their season around. After their midweek exit from the Europa League, a competition Atleti were definitely capable of defending, the club is in danger of falling into yet another slump. Los Rojiblancos take on Málaga on Sunday and three points in Andalusia would give Atleti their second consecutive win in the league.
After seeing off Deportivo 2-0 last weekend at the Vicente Calderon, Quique Sanchez Flores’ men find themselves just five points away from a Champions League spot. Another win would do wonders for confidence in Madrid.
It’s been a difficult week for Atlético. First it was announced that fan-favourite Simao was being allowed to leave for Turkish club Besiktas after failing to renegotiate an extension to his current contract, which expires in the summer. And then results conspired against us in the Europa League ending in an early exit for the holders.
With just the league and Copa del Rey left to focus on for the rest of the season, Atleti need to make sure that they continue to turn results around after two straight losses in la Liga. Quique is already under a whole lot of pressure, and only a win against 18th placed Málaga would do him any sort of favour.
Los Rojiblancos will want to improve on last season’s performances against the Andalusian outfit, and they can do that by scoring a single goal. In the 2009-10 campaign, Málaga shut us out both away at the Rosaleda, and at home at the Vicente Calderon, taking all six points.
Manuel Pellegrini’s men will fight hard to distance themselves from the relegation zone, and will be confident when they host Atleti, knowing that they have won their last three home fixtures.
“We have to make sure we don’t let points escape us,” Pellegrini said at a news conference ahead of the tie. “We’re in the relegation spots and the points at home are crucial.”
Atleti’s coach had some words of caution for his players, telling the club’s official site that “Málaga is a team that surprises you and plays a great game against you, and can surprise you if you have lapses in concentration.”
Tomas Ujfalusi will once again be at Quique’s disposal, but Antonio Lopez and Sergio Asenjo have been dropped from the match selection.
Reyes did not play against Bayer Leverkusen due to muscle soreness and was limited in training, but is expected to feature in this clash.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: De Gea and Joel
Defenders: Valera, Filipe Luís, Godín, Ujfalusi, Domínguez and Perea
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Raúl García, Fran Mérida, Assunçao, Reyes and Simão
Forwards: Forlán, Agüero and Diego Costa
Referee: Fernando Teixeira Vitienes