Match preview: Atlético vs. Celtic

Atleti look to get their Europa League campaign off to a strong start

Celtic vs. Atlético Madrid in 1974(

Celtic vs. Atlético Madrid in 1974

On Thursday night the Europa League really begins when Atlético welcome Celtic to Madrid.

The match at the Vicente Calderón will kick off at 21:05 CET.

The other match in Group I will be played between Udinese and Rennes.

For a while it was uncertain who Atleti would face, after FC Sion had appealed UEFA’s decision to expel them from the competition for using ineligible players in their play-off with Celtic.

The Swiss court ruled in Sion’s favour on Tuesday, but, while both teams were already en route to Madrid, UEFA decided to stand by their earlier decision.

This will be the third time Atleti face the Bhoys. We were victorious both in the semi finals of the Europa Cup in 1973/74 and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1985/86.

The former confrontation made for a lot of discussion this week, when Celtic legend Billy McNeill recalled the aggressive match in Glasgow and branded the upcoming opponents “scum”.

During the pre-game press conference Celtic manager Neil Lennon played down the comments by the club icon.

“Billy McNeil is an important Celtic figure, but I think he was referring to what happened 37 years ago,” he said.

“This will be a different game.”

The coach was looking forward to the Europa League, but reckoned that his team faces a big challenge in arguably the toughest group of the tournament.

“For me, Atlético are favourites. They are of Champions League level”, he said.

If Atleti want to make it through, then winning the home game is absolutely necessary. With two more home games in the league coming up after this one, we can hopefully win three times in a row, something that hasn’t been achieved since January 2010.

Gregorio Manzano has all players available and made some surprising choices in his match selection. According to the club’s official statement, Joel, Filipe, Sílvio, Assunção, Juanfran and Pulido have been left out to rest.

Only full backs Sílvio and Filipe started against Valencia on the weekend, but their absence begs the question whether Manzano is taking this match very seriously.

The coach explained his decision.

“All our players are in perfect condition,” he said.

“The players that come in now are very fresh, but I will not change my formation. We’ll continue to play 4-3-3.”

Pizzi makes his debut in Atleti’s squad, while Asenjo, Godín, Koke and Salvio return after being left out from our previous match selection.

All eyes will be on Radamel Falcao, who scored a record 17 times in last season’s succesful Europa League run for Porto.

The Colombian was unable to find the back of the net on his official debut for Atlético, but will be eager to open his account for the club in this European tournament.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, López, Domínguez, Perea, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario, Tiago, Gabi, Koke, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Salvio, Falcao, Reyes, Arda and Pizzi

Who do you think will start for Atlético and do you think we will be able to beat Celtic? Let us know in the comments!

  • Ringo

    If they don’t win, even without Assuncao, Juanfran and Pulido, who’ve played A LOT these days, I’m going to throw rocks all the way to Madrid

  • 7th

    only 18 players are called.

    so lopez are gonna start. hmm. so who is gonna play in his place if he was injured?

    looking forward to pizzi debut.

    we should win this or else i will start throwing rocks with Ringo.

  • baboo

    why isn’t Godin playing, he isn’t injured or anything i think..

  • Andres

    Cup Winners’ Cup in 1985/96…pretty long season, huh? 😀

  • Javi

    I like what Manzano is doing
    Vote of confidence for asenjo
    Godin is playing because of his height and perea fir his speed
    Celtic has a lot if tall players so Godin will come in handy
    I’m also looking forward to see Salvio and Pizzi play with Falcao. And I’m hoping Arda and Diego start and play the whole game
    Perea Godin miranda Dominguez
    Diego Mario koke
    Salvio Falcao arda

  • Raed Shalak Valbuena

    Perea – Dominguez – Miranda – Lopez
    Tiago – Gabi – Diego
    Salvio – Falcao – Reyes

  • Urban

    Perea – Godin – Domin – A.Lo
    Koke – Gabi
    Salvio – Diego – Pizzi

  • DJ_ZA

    Celtic are sending an understrength team (just read that Brown & Stokes are injured and Majstorovic is suspended), so this should be an easy win.

    Starting team :
    Perea – Godin – Miranda – Lopez
    Diego – Gabi – Koke
    Salvio – Falcao – Turan

    No starting place for Pizzi (aaah) but bring him on later.

    Aupa Atleti!

  • Jonnyboy

    Surely Reyes has to be a starter, I wouldn´t change Courtois based on his recent performances and Tiago gives us strength in the midfield. Can´t undestand why Filipe has been left out by Manzano so here´s my forecast starting 11.

    Godin is lacking match practice but he is tall.


    Perea – Godin – Domingo – Lopez
    Diego – Gabi – Tiago
    Reyes – Falcao – Turán

  • Davide


    Did you ever wonder….

  • J. A. Haugen

    Busy night for Perea then……. :))

  • Alfred

    Perea, Domínguez, Godin, A. Lopez
    Tiago, Diego, Reyes
    Adrián, Falcao, Arda

    wanna see how strong is the attack if use this starter :)))

  • atletisrael

    No one wants another leo franco/coupet season so manzano should decide on this week who he prefers. I think asejo but thats me. I realy miss godin and think the real captain is surley missed so a.lopez is a must. Mabe turan should still come from the bench.

    a bit indecicive at the end but pizzi sounds like an interesting twist. And I realy havent seen him play

  • Heißenberg

    I vote for Davide’s formation 😀

    btw. what’s going on with Pulido, why did he stay when Manzano (based on first few matches) clearly doesn’t count on him? It would be much better if he had go on a loan, he could surely play in club like Rayo or Betis…

    Anyways, I hope to see a good match, good Atletico and finally some goals! Or I could get a bit worry. Aupa Atleti!

  • GS Fan 1905

    Curious. Why is Arda listed as a forward? Anyone know?

  • Ringo

    Because they’ll probably use him as LW most of the time and Wingers are considered forwards when talking about 4-3-3 formations.

  • Ringo

    I’d rather seen Salvio instead of Gabi or Mario, but that could happen in the second half, of course.

  • fancyfartpants

    arda scores at 71 minute, or he gives assist at that minute.

  • 92

    LOL Diego is still referred as Diego Costa!.

  • starvs

    So we’re basically playing a 4-3-2-1 as Diego is not really playing on his wing at all.

    Pretty good start, aside from that one defense lapse.

    I would also like to see Diego (Costa!!) where Gabi is and Reyes in where Diego currently is, think that may be our best formation.

    Courtois is a beast and I think we should do everything possible to sign him somehow. That drop kick pass/clearance was absurd.

    I kept hearing Falcao must have service to score but he’s displayed some dribbling skills, although his passing not so much.

    No more A.Lo freekicks please.

  • starvs

    Arda 68th min assist, not a bad call fancyfarts