Match preview: Atlético vs. Levante

Atlético hosts this year's la Liga revelation Levante

Levante coach Luis García (GettyImages)

Levante coach Luis García (GettyImages)

Tomorrow night at 19.00 Atlético host Levante on what is sure to be a special day for many. Not least because the Valencians are a direct rival for a Europa League spot, trailing us by only four points.

Moreso because tomorrow is the Día del Niño, a special day organized by Atlético for kids which according to the club’s website is “the most important day of the year.”

Ahead of kick-off there will be events all around the stadium, while children can enter the museum for free and will receive a gift in the official Atlético store.

Tickets are more affordable than usual, which also has to do with the fact that the match is played on Easter Sunday, when attendance is usually lower in Spain.

While young families will take this Sunday as a special day out, the 24th of April is also a big day for many of Atleti’s disgruntled fans. More protests against the board have been planned, which will again see many green and gold scarves in and around the stadium. The supporters will remain silent for the first minute of the match, before starting chants against the club owners.

Team News

Atlético are handicapped in midfield, with Koke and Fran Mérida missing out due to injuries, while Tiago and Reyes sit out a one-match suspension. It’s expected Raúl García, Juanfran and Elias will start in midfield to accompany Mario Suárez.

In defence Diego Godín is absent after suffering a muscle strain in training. Álvaro Domínguez will be introducted in defence, next to Filipe, Ujfalusi and Perea. If he features then this would be Perea‘s 203rd la Liga match for Atlético, equalling Jorge Griffa’s record as non-Spaniard with the most league appearances for the club.

The remaining members of the starting XI should be David de Gea, Sergio Agüero and Diego Costa, who will again keep Diego Forlán on the bench. The Uruguayan returns to the match selection after an ankle ‘injury’ kept him sidelined last week.

With all the absentees in midfield Quique was forced to call upon two players from the B-team, although striker Borja is a familiar face. Alberto Noguera has been selected for the first time and could make his first team debut for Atlético. He is a left footed midfielder who is mostly used as the playmaker or a left winger for our reserves.

Match selection
Goalkeepers: De Gea, Joel
Defenders: Valera, López, Filipe, Ujfalusi, Domínguez, Perea
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Raúl García, Elias, Assunção, Juanfran, Noguera
Forwards: Forlán, Agüero, Diego Costa and Borja

Ahead of the season our opponents Levante were doomed to go down but after collecting 42 points they are practically guaranteed a stay in la Liga and the Granotes even find themselves dreaming of European football next season.

In 2011 they have collected more points than any other side apart from the top two. Most of the credit for this has to go to Luis García, the young coach who is mentioned as a possible candidate to replace Quique Sánchez Flores at the end of the season.

García, who played for Atleti’s B-team some twenty years ago, was forced to retire from his playing career at just 28 and then decided to focus on a new start as a coach. The now 38-year old is very ambitious and has admitted it would be a dream come true to coach in the Vicente Calderón on a more permanent basis than just tomorrow night.

In December we surprisingly lost in the Estadio Ciutat de Valencia after goals by Nano and Caicedo, who again are part of Luis García’s selection for our upcoming clash.

Match selection
Goalkeepers: Reina, Munúa
Defenders: Nano, Héctor, Cerra, Juanfran, Venta, Ballesteros
Midfielders: Pallardó, Xavi Torres, Valdo, Iborra, Juanlu, Xisco Nadal, Montero, Xisco Muñoz
Forwards: Caicedo, Stuani, Wellington and Rafa Jordá.

Don’t forget to post your prediction in the AtléticoFans Prediction League!

  • We’re missing alot of players and this doesn’t look too good to be honest. Don’t know why, but I have this feeling that Forlán needs to be a starter again, instead of Costa or..? Anyhow…I hope for loads of goals for Atléti, FORZA ROJIBLANCOS!

  • starvs

    With Reyes out I think QSF should just play Kun, Costa, & Forlan. Unless Juanfran or Elias really step up Kun I foresee Kun and Costa having very little chance to see the ball. I like Forlan in that drop back striker role, he can def create in the midfield, he did a lot of that at the World Cup.

  • Sash

    I hope the game goes well for us and that borja gets a few minutes to play!

  • Gert

    Loved the play of Elias!
    And great how the audience applauded for the atcions of Noguera!!

  • Mert

    i missed the Noguera thing, what happened?

  • palc

    Yeah what did Noguera do? He did not do anything special as it seems to me. I think he slowed down the play and had a bad pass in the end. Would of liked to see Borja instead..

  • GaryMadrid

    It was his 1st game and it was nice to see him get a chance. Tonights games are perfect to bring through the youngsters. Only problem is that we dont get in the position of being 4-1 up enough to be able to bring them on.

  • Gert

    He did nothing special. He just got applauded when he touched the ball.