Atletico travelled north and west of Madrid to Coruna yesterday where they will face Deportivo at the Riazor in the tenth round of league games this season. A victory would place Atleti at the top of the league as they await results from the remaining games amongst their competitors. A victory would also leave los rojiblancos in a confident position following a difficult opening spell to their league campaign.
Playing on Friday
Atletico play on Friday night for the first time this season due to the fact that they face a lengthy trip to Kazakhstan to face FC Astana in the fourth game of their Champions League campaign during the week. They will need as much rest as they can possibly muster for the 14,000km round trip. Having Saturday, and possibly Sunday, off will certainly help in their preparation for the important trip.
You may ask when the last time Atletico Madrid played in a Friday night game? That would be on August 22nd, 2014 at the Vicente Calderon when they beat Real Madrid 1-0 to win the Super Copa. It was the last trophy that Atletico won, but fans of los Colchoneros will have fond memories of Friday night encounters.
Repeat XI is a possibility
It appears as though Diego Simeone has finally found a clearly defined starting XI. Simeone could field the same starting team for two games in row for the first time in 59 La Liga matches. Due to several reasons, including injuries, bookings and player turnover, the Argentine manager has not been able to play a consistent XI. That appears to be changing now though with a more settled look to Cholo's options.
After an excellent performance in the game against Valencia, Cholo said he would not change anything in order to get a victory over Deportivo la Coruna. As he said himself, "this is the best Atletico team in recent times."
Thus, the initial XI chosen by Simeone would be: Oblak; Juanfran, Giménez, Godín, Filipe Luis; Koke, Gabi, Tiago, Carrasco; Griezmann, Jackson.
Carrasco, Atletico's most fashionable man, was played on the left wing in their last practice before departing for Santander. He excelled in that position against Valencia and it is from there that he got the all-important second goal against Valencia last time out. Jackson, meanwhile, will try to continue his scoring streak in his third straight start. Correa and Torres must await their chances from the bench, while Oliver Torres will have to wait and see whether he makes the bench having missed the last training session.
Deportivo de La Coruña have been one of the most pleasant surprises to start the season. They have won two, lost two and drawn two of their last six games but have not won in their last three. They allow few shots on goal for opposing teams. Their preferred tactical setup is 4-4-2 and they use a counter-attacking system. Along with the help of their secret weapon, they have been successful on this front thus far.
With 5 goals and 1 assist, Lucas Pérez is the most dangerous player in their squad. He has been a key factor in assuring Deportivo lay just six points behind Atletico in La Liga. Diego Simeone has pointed out that it will be a very difficult trip to the Riazor with the hosts in such good form to begin the season.
In: Oblak, Moyá, Juanfran, Godín, Giménez, Savic, Filipe Luis, Gámez, Siqueira, Tiago, Gabi, Saúl, Koke, Óliver, Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann, Jackson and Torres.
Out: Lucas, Thomas (tactical) and Luciano Vietto (injury).