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Preview: Astana leaving several first team players at home

Chris McGrath/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid and FC Astana face each other on Wednesday night in the third match of the UEFA Champions League group stage. This will be the first meeting of the two teams, as it is the first participation in the most prestigious European competition for the Kazakhstani squad.

In theory, it could be one of the most predictable games in the group stage for Atleti as they face one of the weaker teams in the group at home, while playing with the hope of avenging their defeat to Benfica in the last group game.

Only 15 professional players

It would be an excellent way for Astana to announce themselves on the European stage with a win at the Vicente Calderon. Despite this opportunity, Stoilov, Astana's coach, has preferred to give more importance to the match they are playing at the weekend and has opted to leave some of his starters at home.

It's interesting that the Bulgarian coach has called only 15 first team players (including 2 keepers) and has had to complete the squad with players that compete in the UEFA Youth League. He remains confident that his side can perform, however, saying "The players that we have called are not worse. I can´t divide the team between better and worse. I'm sure that we will play at a high level". (Via AS)

Consistency for Jackson Martinez

It appears as though Diego Simeone will start the game with the same forwards that started at the Anoeta against Real Sociedad. Taking into account reports from Tuesday morning's last training session, Griezmann and Jackson would start up front. The coach has switched between Jackson and Fernando Torres, but now looks like he could give added continuity to the Colombian striker's starting role. Consistency is key for Martinez to adjust to the team's needs and break his poor run of form in front of goal.

Furthermore, Torres seems comfortable as more of a role player. Introducing both Torres and Carrasco when the defense is tired can be key to Atletico Madrid winning a lot of games this year.

Simeone might see this as a chance to rest some players who have played the most minutes this season including Tiago, Gabi and Godín. Similar to FC Astana, the Colchoneros must play an important match on Sunday (against Valencia) and that could cause Cholo to give a chance to some of the players further down the pecking order.

Simeone´s squad

In: Oblak, Moyá, Juanfran, Godín, Giménez, Savic, Filipe Luis, Siqueira, Tiago, Gabi, Saúl, Koke, Óliver, Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann, Jackson and Torres.

Out: Gámez, Lucas, Thomas (tactical) and Luciano Vietto (injury).