Gregorio Manzano and a squad of twenty flew out to northern France this morning, as Atlético prepare to take on Ligue 1 side Stade Rennais in the Europa League.
Los Rojiblancos made a winning debut in Group I with a 2-0 victory against Celtic a fortnight ago, and will continue their quest to regain the title tomorrow evening at 19:00 CET.
Despite Saturday’s mauling at the hands of Barcelona, Atléti have reason to be upbeat after an extremely positive start to the season.
As we have come to expect in recent games, Manzano has made various changes to the squad in order to accommodate our large quota of players, with Joel, Antonio López, Koke and the injured Sílvio missing the trip.
Coming into the squad are winger Pizzi, who will be looking to make his first start for Atlético, young defender Jorge Pulido, and midfield chief Paulo Assunção.
One player hoping to feature in Rennes is striker Adrián López, who spoke about Thursday’s encounter in a press conference yesterday.
“I have not seen much of [Rennes], but we know that it will be difficult in their stadium,” said the former Deportivo man.
“They are a physical team and it will be a tough game. We intend to play our football from the start and bring home the three points.”
Atlético supporters will be hoping that record signing Radamel Falcao can continue his red-hot form in the Europa League, a competition in which he has scored 19 times in his last 17 appearances.
The Colombian star has yet to face a French team in his career, but against Rennes he will be coming up against international team mate Víctor Montaño, who is the red and black’s top scorer so far this season with seven goals.
Our opposition did not make an ideal start to their Europa League campaign, losing 2-1 away to a late Udinese goal, but currently sit fifth in Ligue 1 and have scored an impressive 32 goals in 13 matches this season.
Manager Frédéric Antonetti spoke about the game to Rennes’ official website earlier today, and appeared to be confident of his team’s chances.
“[Atlético] have some great technical players with a lot of experience. Falcao, Diego, Tiago and Reyes, they are great footballers.” he said.
When asked if Atlético would win the French championship, he had this to say.
“I don’t think they would. They are a good team and would probably be in the top five, but Ligue 1 is more athletic than the Spanish league, it’s not certain that they would adapt.”
“I think in France, they would be at the same level as us.” said the 50 year-old.
With Sunday’s game against Sevilla in mind, it is unclear whether Manzano will line-up with his strongest team in the Route de Lorient stadium, but he has named a healthy 20-man squad with plenty of options at his disposal.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Domínguez, Perea, Miranda, Pulido
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Salvio, Reyes, Arda, Assunção, Gabi, Juanfran, Diego
Forwards: Adrián, Falcao, Pizzi
Rennes match selection
Goalkeepers: Costil, Diallo
Defenders: Danzé, Foulquier, Mavinga, Théophile-Catherine, Kana-Biyik, Jebbour
Midfielders: Dalmat, Doumbia, Féret, M’Vila, Mandjeck, Pajot, Tettey
Forwards: Hadji, Kembo, Montaño, Pitroipa
Referee: Hüseyin Göçek (Turkey)