Match preview: Valencia vs. Atlético

Diego & Falcao are set to make their Rojiblanco debut at Mestalla

Perea fends off Soldado (

Perea fends off Soldado (

Atlético face their biggest challenge of the young season when they head out to Valencia on Saturday to take on the local Champions League calibre squad.

Atleti manager Gregorio Manzano very confidently assured in Friday’s pre-game press conference that his men are “prepared to compete against any opponent”.

While los Rojiblancos snatched up world class players over the summer transfer window, most notably, Radamel Falcao, Arda Turan and Diego, the new guys have had very little time to train with the rest of the squad given their late signings and international duty.

“Perhaps from the standpoint of the latest additions there might be a lack of cohesion, as would be logical,” said Manzano.

“Players have barely gotten to know each other in the dressing room, like, for example, how just the day before yesterday Falcao, Diego or Turan met.

“It takes time for them to start adapting and connecting on the playing field.”

Following what was ultimately a disappointing home draw against Osasuna in the first match week, los Colchoneros have no time to waste and will need to develop chemistry immediately.

The clash at Mestalla sets off a string of eight matches of domestic and European play within a three-week time span for Atleti that will almost surely determine the course of the rest of the season.

Manzano hinted at the strong possibility that the trinity of new stars will see some action Saturday, though he did not reveal if they would be in the starting line-up.

“All three have been called up for the Valencia match and I hope that we will be able to see the players at some point during the game, if not throughout the entire time,” he said.

Valencia boss Unai Emery warned that “Atlético have only replaced parts of their squad for others that are just as capable, such as Agüero for Falcao.”

“They have the advantage of having seen more action already,” he was quoted as saying by Atlético’s official site.

“It’s a very demanding game.”

Emery’s men took all three points when they hosted Racing Santander in their league opener a fortnight ago, a thrilling last-minute-comeback victory.

Los Che hitman Roberto Soldado bagged a hat-trick in the encounter, so Atlético will want to keep tabs on the Valencia striker.

“A player that scores three goals is someone you have to be aware of the next game, but even if he hadn’t scored any we would look out for him all the same,” warned Manzano.

“We’ll be cautious with everyone though, not just with Soldado.”

In addition to marking ‘Bobby Soldier’ tightly, our men will want to keep a close eye (or leg) on winger Pablo Piatti, who has been a pest to Atleti the past couple of seasons while with Almería.

Manzano somewhat controversially left off an eye-opening group of footballers from the squad for this bout.

Not handed a train ticket to Valencia were fan favourite Koke, Jorge Pulido, Eduardo Salvio, Diego Godín, Sergio Asenjo and Pizzi.

Atleti supporters shouldn’t be too concerned however, as this is more a testament to the quality depth the club will rely on this season than anything else.

This should foster a healthy level of competition for each position, keeping our men motivated throughout the long campaign.

Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Joel, Courtois
Defenders: Antonio López, Filipe Luis, Sìlvio, Álvaro Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Reyes, Arda Turan, Assunçao, Gabi, Juanfran, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao

Referee: José Luis González González

Don’t forget to submit your score over at our Prediction League section!

  • 92

    Very difficult match for Atleti, I wonder if Atleti is gonna have the initiative of actually attack Valencia from the beginning or cautious and counterattack them, Salvio

  • 92

    I think Salvio is the right man for this match, fast and elusive if Manzano plans to counterattack, and looks like Koke isn’t in Manzano’s plans just yet. why Assuncao is on the bench and Koke isn’t, is a big question, but let’s see tomorrow if Turan, Reyes and Diego can associate right away to assist Falcao, given that this an important match towards the club hopes of finishing third this season.

  • Edletico

    I guess Assuncao is on the bench incase we have a slender lead towards the end and need to keep it. Bit disappointed that Godin hasn’t travelled yet unless he is injured. Would love to see the stars begin the match and surprise them with some fast attacking football.

  • 92

    That’s the spirit!, I agree, we need to star the match putting pressure on Valencia and be aggresive now that we have the players. I think Valencia’s defense is slow and shaky, since they conceded3 goals against Racing, hopefully we can strike them first and hypothetically if we score first, we keep attacking them and finish them off, because Valecia is one of those teams that, if you don’t finish them off, you’ll regret it later.

  • Edletico

    Yeah like those two games against them last season. I believe that Falcao is a ruthless striker though so hopefully history will not be repeating itself

  • starvs

    I want to see no less than 20 crosses into Falcao; feed the beast.

  • 7th

    this valencia team gives me the same fear as Ream madrid and barcelona, now that they have piatti who has scored 4 goals against us last season

    but i have high expectation that we might get a win.

    AUPA atletico.

  • javi

    Conventionally, Falcao, Diego and Turan should not start because they have not been integrated yet. However, Emery has probably set his game plan with those players on the bench, and if I was Manzano I would start with at least two of them, in particular Falcao and Diego. They seem to be in great shape and mentally they have to be ready for action even though they are not yet integrated with the other players. I think that might add an element of surprise and something which the Valencia defense may not be ready for…plus I have Falcao scoring first in the prediction league.

  • Turkish Fan

    is there anyone who knows first 11? good luck, i want to see ARDA in first 11,he was amazing again in Turkey national games last days..

  • 92

    Diego Costa is on the bench?, I thought he was gonna be out for 6 months, that’s weird.

  • Edletico

    @92. They got it confused with Diego Ribas, both called Diego and wear number 22. Costa isn’t registered

  • 92

    yeah I should have know better he isn’t going to be on field for a long time.

  • k14

    Diego was excellent, Arda will be aswell if the couch make use of him, Falcao wasnt given a chance tbh.

    Alvaro.D , Gabi, Reyes and juanfran were worst in this game in my opinion.

  • Lubo

    I’m not surprised, nor disappointed. When you compare last year’s starting eleven with today’s, there are 7 changes. These players need time to get used to each other and we will be great. Maybe it won’t be enough for Champions League this season, but we will rule La Liga next year. I’m sure about that.

  • Turkish Fan

    Manzano should put ARDA to game in first 11 after this game for everygame…AS i told before,arda will be ur best player in next time,he needs time,and need to knwo his friends..JUAN AND REYES OUT…they were terrible,so selfish..