After securing safe passage into the Copa del Rey quarter-finals, Atlético must quickly shift their focus back to the league. Los Rojiblancos travel to Alicante for the Monday night game to face off against Hércules for the first time in almost 14 years. In fact, the last time these two teams met, Atlético were the domestic double winners.
Atleti are after their fourth road victory of the season, and will be looking to take their unbeaten streak up to seven straight matches in all competitions.
With a domestic cup tie against bitter foe Real Madrid looming just around the corner, Quique Sánchez Flores must keep his men concentrated on the match at hand.
“The priority is the clash against Hércules,” Sánchez Flores told the club’s official site. “They’re a very aggressive team at home.
“They are strong up front with very decisive veteran players that have been contributing a lot.”
Atleti can ill-afford to drop any more points following a disheartening league draw against Racing Santander this past Monday. Los Colchoneros can take hold of the fifth spot in the league with a victory over Hércules, coupled with an Espanyol draw or loss at Real Zaragoza.
Though our fresh new signing Elias is officially registered in la Liga, the club has apparently not received the official documentation from league authorities. But Quique included him in the match selection anyway.
“Elias is traveling with us. We don’t have his transfer yet, but we might receive it at some point during the day on Monday” said Quique. “Plus, it’s convenient that he begins to familiarise himself with the mechanics of the club.”
Diego Forlan is back, though there is still some uncertainty regarding his fitness. “The Uruguayan is not at 100 per cent, but I’ve called on him,” said Quique. “He’s feeling better, but the situation is not the best one.”
Forlan’s return means Borja goes back to the reserve squad. The cantera striker’s 2010-11 debut will be placed on hold.
Tiago continues his recovery from his hamstring injury, and misses his second straight game. Hopefully we can get our Portuguese helmsman back in time for the Copa derby on Thursday.
Esteban Vigo’s men haven’t found the back of the net in their last two games, and will be relying once again on those “decisive veteran players” that Quique was referring to, Nelson Valdez and David Trezeguet, to spark the blue and white attack.
The strike duo has combined for 14 of the Valencian outfit’s 18 goals this campaign, so Atleti will be looking to shut the pair down.
The newly-promoted Hércules can move up to two places to 11th in the league table with a win on Monday, but they will once again be going into battle without Royston Drenthe.
The Dutch midfielder, on loan from Real Madrid, will be left out of the selection again following his winter strike in protest against his unpaid wages. The 23-year-old has returned to the squad and has since issued a public apology for his behaviour.
According to his coach, Drenthe will not play because he is not fully fit, but rumours suggest that the Dutchman is being protected from the scorn of Blanquiazules fans at the José Rico Pérez stadium.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: De Gea, Joel
Defenders: Valera, Antonio López, Filipe, Godín, Ujfalusi, Domínguez, Luis Perea
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Raúl García, Elias, Fran Mérida, Paulo Assunção, Reyes, Koke, Alberto Perea
Forwards: Agüero, Diego Costa and Forlán
Referee: José Luis Paradas Romero
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