Match preview: Espanyol vs. Atlético

Atlético will take a 1-0 lead into the Cornellà-El Prat for the decisive 2nd leg fixture

Atletico Madrid striker sergio el kun aguero in challenge against espanyol

Sergio Agüero and Jordi Amat (

Atlético can punch their ticket to the Copa del Rey quarter-finals with a win or draw against Espanyol in the second fixture of the two-legged Round of 16 tie.

Los Rojiblancos will come into the away clash with the 1-0 advantage secured at home just before Christmas, a minimal margin especially considering los Pericos’ dominance at their Cornellà-El Prat stadium this season.

Quique Sánchez Flores’ men will come out fired up and will be looking to help their supporters quickly forget the points left behind in Madrid earlier this week as a result of their scoreless draw versus Racing Santander.

The squad will be boosted by the return of José Antonio Reyes to the fold. The talented winger was sorely missed on Monday as Atleti failed to score at home for the first time in their 2010-11 campaign.

Unfortunately, Diego Forlán, whose absence was also felt against the Cantabrians, did not recover from his ankle sprain in time for this match.

Tiago will not play having sustained a hamstring injury in our tie against Racing, and it looks like we’ll have to wait at least another game before we get to see Elias make his debut. The Brazilian midfielder was not included in Quique’s selection, as his transfer has not been officialised yet.

Los Colchoneros have rounded out their selection with the inclusion of several youth products. Midfielder Koke was impressive in the 20 minutes he was allotted against the Verdiblancos and is available again. Striker Borja, who was also called up for our last game, is at hand and will hope to see some playing time against Espanyol.

19-year-old winger Alberto Perea has finally been promoted back to the senior side and is at Quique’s disposal.

The clean sheet at home left our main objective clear for this bout. If we score a goal in Barcelona, our opponents will be forced to score at least three to qualify. We’ll be resting our hopes once again on our freshly-appointed vice-captain Sergio Agüero. The Argentine talisman, who recently extended his contract through 2014, will want to improve on his performance in our first match of the week.

Our defence will seek to take their streak of not allowing a goal versus Spanish opposition up to five straight games.

Mauricio Pochettino’s men will be pumped up as well after experiencing an unjust, heartbreaking 2-1 loss to Valencia on the weekend. The Catalans were robbed of a point in injury time following a late goal by Juan Manuel Mata, who scored from a clearly offside position.

We caught a huge break with the news that Espanyol’s biggest attacking threat, Pablo Daniel Osvaldo, has been ruled out with a knee injury. The Argentine striker netted a pearler at the Calderón in our last league match against the Barcelona-based outfit that ended up being the game-winner.

The victor will measure itself up against a daunting Real Madrid side in the quarter-finals, unless of course Levante come back from their 8-0 deficit.

Reinforcements will reportedly only arrive if we qualify to the next round
According to Spanish paper AS, Atlético directors will be waiting out the result of this encounter in order to determine if more signings will be made during this transfer window. The rumours basically suggest that if we qualify to the next round, then we will sign an additional winger.

The team is in obvious need of offensive reinforcements following the recent departure of Simão, and the exits of Salvio and Jurado over the summer. Quique made it clear just how dire the situation is when he was forced to line-up Raúl García on the right flank against Racing, and later had to bring in Valera to perform that role when Tiago came out limping with his hamstring injury.

Regardless of whether we make it through to the quarter-finals, we need help if we want to qualify for a Champions League spot. Though we would all love to see our canteranos thrive on the first team, we could really use the addition of a proven, experienced winger.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: De Gea, Joel
Defenders: Valera, Antonio López, Filipe Luis, Godín, Ujfalusi, Álvaro Domínguez, Perea
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Raúl García, Fran Mérida, Paulo Assunção, Reyes, Koke, Alberto Perea
Forwards: Kun Agüero, Diego Costa and Borja

Espanyol match selection
Goalkeepers: Kameni, Cristian Álvarez
Defenders: Chica, Didac, Forlín, Amat, Raúl Rodríguez
Midfielders: Javi Márquez, Baena, Verdú, Javi López, Duscher, Dátolo, Molina
Forwards: Callejón, Luis García, Sergio García, Iván Alonso and Álvaro

Referee: Miguel Ángel Pérez Lasa

Don’t forget to get in your predictions for the AtleticoFans Prediction League!

Who do you think Quique will line-up to start the match?

  • palc

    We’ll need a winger if we get through? What if we don’t go through? Don’t we need a winger then? Ridiculous.

  • Martin Rosenow

    Hopefully it’s just a motivational tactic. But yes, I agree, absolutely ridiculous.

  • Ringo Schut

    Three players to be dropped, so I think only one of the canteranos will be selected, Perea and Borja have the biggest chance positionwise, but Koke is furthest in skill, I guess.

  • Martin Rosenow

    Actually Ringo, for this round of the Copa del Rey you get 7 players available on the bench instead of 5, so only 1 will be dropped.

    It might be one of the canteranos, but I wouldn’t be surprised to see Mario Suárez get dropped because he hasn’t been fully training with the rest of the team this week with some sort of muscle injury.

  • Hope to see Borja getting his minutes. Pulido could be offloaded since its to important game to risk anything at the back.

    Asenjo and Camacho played 90 minutes today for Malaga in the loss 0-3 against Sevilla.

  • Ringo Schut

    Pulido? I don’t see him on the list at all.

    So 7? Well, taking another look at the sheet it’s Lopez, Perea or Mario (because of what Martin said) to be dropped.

    How come the transfer isn’t officialized, btw?
    Not that I care that much, Koke keeps stealing my heart <3.

  • Ringo Schut

    With Perea I mean the Spaniard, not Turbo.

  • Martin Rosenow

    Urban, Pulido is recovering from a severe ankle sprain suffered this past weekend.

    I’m not sure why the Elias transfer hasn’t been processed yet Ringo.

  • palc

    Is Reyes available for this match? I mean he did get sent off last match.

  • Martin Rosenow

    palc, Reyes served his suspension against Racing, so yes, thankfully he will be available for this match.

  • Sorry, I war writing that after 12 hours of straight work, no pulido taken into consideration there obviously, thx for correcting me!

  • NiñoTorres

    Looking forward to this. Judging by Quique’s comments after the Racing match, Mario’s fitness, and Raúl García’s woeful showing on Monday, I really believe Koke could be starting in this game.

    Also I think 4-3-3 could be a good option for the match. Diego Costa and Kun don’t work together, so maybe Kun as the centre-forward with Reyes and Fran either side? It will be interesting to see Quique’s selection.

  • Ringo Schut

    I think we will play 4-4-2.

    Kun is a certainty, next to him Costa or Reyes, if Reyes is striker, we’ll see Garcia or Valera on the wing.
    Koke could be starting, but I’m expecting Assuncao & Tiago.
    Fran is certain to start on the left and I think he’s happy that Simao left, not his position, but minutes.

    Koke could also play on the right, but I don’t see that happening.
    I personally would like to see that 4-3-3, though, or 4-3-1-2 (Fran=1 and Reyes+Aguero=2).
    If Costa is back in shape, though, I wouldn’t mind to see him on the pitch.

  • Martin Rosenow

    Tiago didn’t make the selection Ringo. He’s going to miss the next 2 games with a hamstring injury. So it’s between Garcia, Suarez and Koke next to Assuncao.

  • k14

    IF we drop out, that means less intensive schedule for us which can be handled by a smaller squad.
    This actually make sense, or to me atleast it does 🙂

  • palc

    @k14 If we drop out, im sure its because of the lack of depth in the squad. Bottomline is that we need new players. Or else we’ll struggle to even qualify for the Europa league.

  • Ringo Schut

    But perhaps that gives less chances to Koke & other canteranos.

    And Martin, thanks, I forgot :$

    Well, Koke has a chance, but I think Garcia has the biggest.
    Following is Mario, although he’s not entirely fit or something (?).

  • Ringo Schut

    Adding to that: Valera has a big chance to start as RM now, instead of Costa (Reyes CF)