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.
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.
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.
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.
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