Atlético will be looking to avenge their recent loss to Espanyol when the two sides face off at the Vicente Calderón in the first leg of the Copa del Rey round of 16 fixture.
The revenge factor is heightened even further given that the last time the teams met up against each other in Spain’s domestic cup was in the 1999-00 edition’s final. That year, an Atleti side that had already succumbed to relegation wanted to salvage a little dignity by taking the prestigious title.
Unfortunately for los Colchoneros, they were dealt a final devastating blow as they fell 2-1 to los Pericos in embarrassing fashion. Atleti goalkeeper Toni Jiménez gifted a young Raúl Tamudo a goal with a horrendous blunder in the second minute that summed up the nature of the season.
A decade later, los Rojiblancos will once again be looking to save face after an abrupt and hugely disappointing exit from their title-defending Europa League campaign. Though we have managed to bounce back from some bad Liga performances and are set up nicely to lay claim to a Champions League spot, our only chance of adding some hardware to the trophy case this season is to win the Copa del Rey.
Following back-to-back league victories, Quique Sánchez Flores’ men will be looking to end the calendar year in good spirits. No matter the result however, there will be some gloom in the home team’s locker room after what will likely be winger Simao Sabrosa’s final act with Atlético prior to his departure to Turkey.
Two straight wins by Atleti coupled with two straight losses by Espanyol have left us within striking distance of our opponents in the Liga classification table. The White and Blues have let their guard down of late, and kissed their perfect home record goodbye this past weekend following a 5-1 pounding courtesy of bitter rivals Barcelona in the Catalan derby.
Despite the setback, Espanyol boss Mauricio Pochettino will want to continue to make the case that his squad has the mettle to duke it out with the big boys over the long haul. Consecutive wins at the Calderón will help re-validate the Barcelona-based side’s revelation team label.
Although only sixteen players are allowed in cup matches Quique has decided to select 19 players. Only Juanito, Camacho and Asenjo miss out.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: De Gea, Joel
Defenders: Valera, Antonio López, Filipe, Godín, Ujfalusi, Domínguez, Perea
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Raúl García, Fran Mérida, Assunção, Reyes, Simão
Forwards: Forlán, Agüero and Diego Costa.
Referee: David Fernández Borbalán
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