If weather permits, Atletico face Celta Vigo in Sunday's night late game at Balaidos. The torrential rainfall that the Galician area has suffered through last week could affect the normal schedule for the game but Celta Vigo officials have assured Atletico that the game will go ahead. A waterlogged field could in fact handicap Vigo's team and their quick style of play.
In addition, Los Celtiñas have a huge absence in their squad in Nolito. The Spanish international is without doubt one of La Liga's brightest sparks this season and is currently the top scorer and assist maker with eight goals in 15 appearences for Celta.
The individual quality of the Galician side's forwards is their best asset and Nolito is possibly the most skillful of them all. Toto Berizzo will also have to discount the availability of Augusto Fernandez since his move to Atletico. His former captain could even start for the visitors at his former ground.
Berizzo's men are one of this year's most in-form teams and currently sit in 5th place on 31 points. This gives them a real chance of qualifying for the Champions League despite having lost their last two league games to Athletic Bilbao and Malaga.
As per usual, Diego Simeone analyzed the state in which his team is in during his press conference before Sunday's game. When asked about the possibility of suspension due to weather that threatens the fixture, he said: "We are thinking that it is going ahead, I have no other thought than this."
The manager also had some nice words for his compatriot's team: "They are a team that has been working well with Berizzo. They are very competitive, they show good defensive pressure and speed in attack, with great imbalance in the individual match-ups. I imagine a game where we will wait and they propose their game, from there we will try to bring the game to where it suits us."
Referring to his team, he did praise the options offered in having a squad with so many good players and said it is something that helps the club and the team grow.
A reinforced midfield
Although not confirmed by the coach at his press conference, Sunday's game could mean the debut of Augusto Fernandez in the league in the red and white jersey. According to reports in recent Atletico's workouts, Diego Simeone has been testing a midfield consisting of 4 players: Augusto Gabi, Saul and Koke. This could mean a return to the 4-4-2 system in order to cancel out one of the strongest aspects of Celta Vigo's play by overpopulating the midfield. Almost definitely, we will see more defensive tactics than usual in order to try to counteract the attacking pressure the opposing team usually applies.
Meanwhile, Cholo should recover his "favorite" defensive line after the break following the midweek Copa del Rey clash. The attacking front would be formed by the tandem of Vietto-Griezmann. Thus, the manager would try to surprise the defense of the Galician team with speed and their ability to break fast and find their attacking teammates. Taking a look at the players who remain on the bench, it seems that Atletico's coach holds in his hands the ability to change the course of the play as he has done in recent weeks.
Possible XI: Oblak; Juanfran, Giménez, Godín, Filipe Luis; Augusto, Gabi, Koke, Saúl; Griezmann, Vietto.
In: Oblak, Moyá, Godín, Giménez, Savic, Filipe, Juanfran, Gámez, Augusto, Kranevitter, Thomas, Saúl, Gabi, Koke, Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann, Vietto, Jackson and Torres.
Out: Lucas, Siqueira, Óliver (Tactical), and Tiago (injury).