Match preview: Atlético vs Racing Santander

Atlético look to keep pace with direct rivals by taking Liga win streak to 3 games

atletico madrid forward diego forlan scores goal against racing santander

Forlán scores against Racing (

With a Champions League spot well within their reach, Atlético will be looking to get off to a running start in 2011 by besting Racing Santander before a home crowd.

Before year’s end, los Rojiblancos seemed to have figured out their defensive woes. In our last four matches in all competitions, we only conceded one goal.

Our previous three games against Spanish competition have all ended in shutouts in our favour, helping us close the gap in our quest for the Champions League following consecutive league triumphs over Deportivo and Málaga.

Racing’s back-line has also seen some notable improvement however, as they haven’t allowed a goal in their last two league matches; an impressive 1-0 away victory at Mallorca and a 0-0 draw at home against Hercules.

“Racing is a very dangerous team,” Quique told the official site ahead of the game. “In their last matches they have conceded very few goals.

“They’ve had an irregular season but they have the advantage of playing with the same block of players and have the same coach.”

The four points recently earned by Miguel Ángel Portugal’s side bumped them up a safe distance from the relegation zone they had been flirting with earlier in the season as they coped with the big loss of young phenom Sergio Canales, who left for greener pastures over the summer.

Manager Quique Sanchez Flores will be fielding a makeshift line-up while we seek to resolve shortcomings in our squad during the winter transfer window. Out went Simao, Camacho and Asenjo, and in came Elias from Corinthians.

Many of us were excited at the prospect of the Brazilian debuting against Racing, as he had trained with most of the presumable starters in the final practices ahead of the game, but he was ultimately left out of the match selection.

“Elias is adapting himself,” Quique said. “He’s coming back from a vacation period and we have to help him get adapted, although he is not in bad shape. He arrived in great condition and with a lot of desire.”

With the suspension of Reyes and the departure of Simao, Quique will likely be going with Merida and Raul Garcia on the wings.

The biggest surprise in the selection is the call-up of reserve squad members Borja and Koke. Since his recent return from his knee injury, Borja has only seen 13 minutes of action with the Atlético B team. Koke, a central midfielder, may also be an option on the wing as Quique used him on the flanks in two games last year.

Diego Forlán will be kept out of the match as he continues his recovery from the ankle sprain sustained in the clash against Espanyol just before the break, so Diego Costa is likely to get the nod up front alongside Aguero.

Ujfalusi brushed off the knock to his ankle suffered at training last week after a tough tackle by el Kun and will probably start.

A win at the Calderón coupled with a tie between Espanyol and Valencia at Mestalla would place us in fourth in the classification table. Though we would be level with Espanyol and Valencia at 29 points, we would go ahead because of our superior goal differential.

We thrashed Racing when they last visited the Calderón in our Copa del Rey encounter last season, but we have not beaten the Cantabrian outfit in three straight league matches.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: De Gea, Joel
Defenders: Valera, López, Filipe, Godín, Ujfalusi, Domínguez, Perea
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Raúl García, Fran Mérida, Assunção, Koke
Forwards: Agüero, Diego Costa and Borja

Referee: Javier Turienzo Alvarez

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  • Edletico

    Hopefully we can score a couple early and see Borja get some minutes towards the ends

  • Ringo Schut

    Borja is fit, but he certainly is a “just in case”.
    He had much more talent than Collado, but you could’ve expected Perea, although he isn’t always starting anymore, if I remember correctly…

    I think Koke should be used, you could attract a loan deal from a team where he will certainly get some needed minutes. It will cause some problems for the reserves, possibly, but for Koke it’s better to play in the Segunda A or even the Primera Division. Perhaps a team like Levante has a spot for the hot prospect.

    Borja should stay here this season and slowly build up again, we only have three strikers in front of hims, so there is space for some chances, select him every time one of the attackers is tired, injured or suspended, perhaps even more!

    For the starting line-up, Perea will certainly start, either in the center or on the right, Dominguez is 95% or something. Left will be Filipe and than it’s Godin, is he back or is it better to start Valera or even Lopez?
    The goal will be guarded by Superman, uhh, I mean David de Gea 😀 .
    On midfield I guess it’s pretty certain who will start on the wings, but Valera might get the advantage over Raul Garcia. His crosses and his attacking runs are probably a little better, but Raul Garcia is still my choice.
    Left is for Merida.
    In the center I expect Assuncao and Tiago, but there might be a surprise. I think Koke will be used, but Quique often finds a way to not use the canteranos.
    I’d like to see a surprising Koke-start, but don’t think it will happen.

    In attack we will see Costa alongside Kun and that’s the best choice, Borja will hopefully get a chance in the last 15/20 minutes.

  • Edletico

    What about Elias? He may play on the right

  • Martin Rosenow

    Elias didn’t make the match selection. He is still “adapting” as Quique said.

  • 4-3-3?

  • Ringo Schut

    With which attackers?
    I don’t think they’re ready for 4-3-3 now, at least Reyes needs to be back.

    We can’t become fourth this weekend, I heard Espanyol got screwed in injury time.

  • javi

    I agree with Ringo, lets see Koke play!

  • Ian

    I may be a little bit late in reading this opinion, but I totally agree with this.
    I think salvio is a good purchase, but the decision to loan him out and buy Elias, and sell Simao is kinda moronic, I really have no idea what was behind those moves.

  • Kun-Costa-Mérida?

    I certainly hope that Quique chooses to switch system when Reyes and Forlán are back.

  • javi

    Ian, I think they had to loan Salvio because they do not have any more foreigner spots available and he is coming back when Godin’s nationalization is complete, this summer. Also, I think they didnt want to give Simao a long term deal which is what he was looking for and Beksitas did, plus more moeny than Atleti wanted to pay.

  • Martin Rosenow

    Costa, Elias, Salvio and Miranda would to this point be the ones fighting for the 3 non-EU spots in the summer.

    I would imagine it would be another competition between Costa and Salvio, although the forward situation might completely change this summer if Forlan leaves and we sign a big name replacement. Also, Borja’s progress can make things even messier.