Unbeaten in four straight matches and with just a single loss in their last 10, Atlético are showing their best form of the season and will arrive in Coruña on Saturday with their heads held high.
Despite finally finding some consistency, manager Quique Sanchez Flores warned ahead of the encounter against relegation-threatened Depor: “We cannot afford to lower our intensity. All games are tough. We have a run of fixtures where we face teams who have not yet secured their safety,” he was quoted as saying by ESPN Soccernet.
“We must try and keep up our own form. We are going out with a good intensity, attitude and enthusiasm with the intent to create chances. Right now we have a positive dynamic,” he said.
All does seem fine and dandy at the Calderón these days, with the exception of the black sheep role being played by Diego Forlán, who recently lost his place outright to Diego Costa.
Although Forlán had a spectacular outing in Morocco against Raja Casablanca in our mid-week friendly against our strategic ally, he is very likely to be parked on the bench when the clash kicks off on Saturday.
When asked about ‘La Rubia”, Quique said: “It’s my job to train the player and to make decisions. I haven’t lost faith in any of my players, but I have to make sure I field the best players.
“Diego has now lost his spot in the starting eleven, but the competition for places continues,” said Quique. “His current situation can be compared to what happened with Zlatan Ibrahimovic at Barcelona last season.”
While Forlan’s situation mirrors Ibra’s of last season, Sergio Agüero is presently in the midst of a Messi-like run of eight goals to his name in his last six appearances. Atleti’s chances of securing a Europa League spot will predominantly rest on the Rojiblanco crack’s shoulders.
Filipe Luis will make a return trip to his former home where he spent four seasons from 2006 through 2010 before joining los Colchoneros this past summer. The Brazilian told Atlético’s official site, “It’s going to be very special for me. I have a great relationship with everyone there.
“I don’t know what the atmosphere will be like but I have great affection for everyone there, and whatever happens I’ll be very happy to play there again. In any case, the most important thing is for the team to bring the three points back to Madrid.”
Midfielder Mario Suarez, who recently signed up for a Twitter account, poked fun at the left-back, telling winger Juanfran via the social networking platform that Filipe “needs to be protected by all of us this week because he is nervous about returning to Coruña.” Mario then warmed up to Filipe, telling him: “We love you.”
Aw. Here’s to the merrymaking and good cheer that consistency brings.
Heavy-hitters Tiago, Jose Antonio Reyes and Diego Godín all return to the match selection after missing out from our big triumph over Levante last Sunday.
Unfortunately, Koke remains sidelined with his left knee injury and will be unavailable again.
Juan Valera and Fran Mérida were left off Quique’s selection as is now customary, and reserve squad players Alberto Noguera and Borja returned to Atlético B after their brief spell with the first team.
Lotina faces a midfield crisis as regular starters Antonio Tomas and Juca are unavailable, and Atleti’s Ruben Perez–on loan at Deportivo this year–is contractually barred from playing against his parent club.
We may get a chance to scope out our future striker Adrián, who tends to occasionally feature as a winger in Lotina’s system, though he has failed to land a set spot on the Blues and Whites’ starting XI.
According to an EFE report, Lotina suggested that defenders Aythami or Juan Dominguez could feature as midfielders on Saturday.
“I guess the coach is thinking what he can do and we are all in a position to help,” Aythami told the Spanish media ahead of the game. “If I have to play as a midfielder then it won’t be something new for me. I was a midfielder when I was younger while at Las Palmas, and sometimes I even played as a playmaker.”
A win at the Riazor this weekend will take Atlético up to 52 points. With Athletic Bilbao (51 points) and Sevilla (49 points) both playing tough away fixtures at Espanyol and Almería, respectively, we have another chance to leap frog them and get a hold of fifth place should they both be defeated.
Depor really haven’t been a threat the last two times we have faced off against them. Their past two visits to the Calderón have ended in shutout victories to Atleti (3-0, 2-0).
The Galicians rank dead last in goals in favour this year with 27–which happens to be exactly half of our league goal total of 54.
Although Depor have lacked firepower this season, they have been fairly solid at home where they have tallied 20 of their 27 goals and have conceded only 15. They have won four of their last six encounters at their stadium.
Atletico match selection:
Goalkeepers: De Gea, Joel
Defenders: Antonio López, Filipe Luis, Godín, Ujfalusi, Domínguez, Perea
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Raúl García, Elías, Paulo Assunção, Reyes, Juanfran
Forwards: Forlán, Kun Agüero, Diego Costa
Deportivo match selection:
Goalkeepers: Aranzubía, Manu
Defenders: Laure, Seoane, Morel, Lopo, Colotto, Ze Castro, Aythami
Midfielders: Juan Rodríguez, Pablo Álvarez, Guardado, Juan Domínguez, Valerón
Forwards: Xisco, Riki, Adrián, Lassad
Referee: Javier Turienzo Álvarez
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