Atletico host Vitória de Guimarães at the Vicente Calderón Thursday evening in the first leg of their Europa League play-off round fixture.
Los Rojiblancos got past Norwegian side Stromsgodset in the third qualifying round, while Vitória sent Danish outfit FC Midtjylland packing in the previous stage of the competition.
“Vitória are a difficult opponent,” manager Gregorio Manzano warned in the pre-game press conference on Wednesday.
“They have players with experience in Portuguese and European football and have achieved recent successes, such as playing in the Portuguese Super Cup against Porto and reaching this Europa League qualifier after a solid season last year.
“We know we have to do things well if we want to get past this round. We are confident in our chances, but we have an opponent before us that we know we can’t take lightly at all.”
Atleti fans were hoping to count on rumoured targets Radamel Falcao and/or Pablo Daniel Osvaldo for this tie, but neither player will make it in time to be registered.
“Now isn’t the time to talk about transfers,” said midfielder Tiago a day before the match. “We’re focussed on Vitória de Guimarães.
“It’s important to get the fixture off on the right foot, and if we achieve a good result, we will go to Portugal a little more relaxed, but it will not be easy.”
Despite rumours in the Spanish and Italian media suggesting Diego Forlán was on his way out of Atleti, the Uruguayan remains in Madrid and could start on Thursday.
Goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo returns to the team after being sidelined for over six months in his recovery from knee surgery.
Diego Godín and Elias have also been included by Manzano after missing out from the fixture against Stromsgodset.
Koke and Jorge Pulido are back from Colombia and on the squad following their elimination from the U-20 World Cup quarter-finals with Spain.
Fran Mérida was left off the selection along with fresh signing Arda Turan, who will be unavailable because of an unspecified muscle injury.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Joel, Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Antonio López, Filipe Luis, Godín, Sílvio, Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Reyes, Assunçao, Gabi, Salvio, Juanfran, Elias
Forwards: Diego Forlán, Adrián López