Atletico Madrid begin their attempt to make the Copa del Rey semifinals by visiting Balaidos just 10 days after their league match with Celta Vigo, which resulted in a 2-0 Atletico win. Atletico and Celta were both successful in their previous clashes in the cup against Rayo and Cadiz respectively and will now see if they have what it takes to make the final, just four games away.
Although there is still no official squad list, Nolito appears to be missing in action again and so, Berizzo will be without his main offensive threat. New signings Marcelo Diaz (injured) and Claudio Beavue look like they won't be chosen either. In addition, the Celta defense has the absense of steady Andreu Fontas and there are doubts surrounding Hugo Mallo's inclusion.
As usual, Diego Simeone analyzed his team the day before taking on his opposition: "Playoffs are hard, especially when you have to play against teams like Celta. I imagine a similar game to the one we played in the league. We have not changed since this match, but Celta may have some variations." Regarding the situation of the squad: "The squad is working to be an irritating team, this is what we always say. We have achieved regularity, which is very difficult. A squad is valued when players that don't start solve problems off the bench for the team. We can have a big intern competence, with players taking advantage of their minutes. This is happening and it drives us towards a better situation".
In addition, Cholo referred to two players who seem to be in the spotlight: Oliver Torres and Jackson Martinez. When asked about the canterano's situation: "It is clear: firstly, I have to put him in and then he has to decide the facts that we see. I always say the most important thing is how the season ends. Playing four key games is more important than playing much more in a team that does not have aspirations." Regarding the Colombian striker: "Jackson has already experienced this situation in other sides. He did not start well and then gradually improved. Beyond the goal, I evaluate his game with the team, how the rest take his power. Although we know he would feel more comfortable with more goals."
Plan ‘B' on the scene again
These two players, along with a group of less regular players, will get another chance to show they can be useful resources for Simeone. Again, the coach will use the Copa del Rey duel to rest regular starters, using the breadth of his squad.
Jackson could form a trio in attack including Correa and Carrasco while Oliver would do it with Thomas and Kranevitter in a midfield that has been unprecedented so far. In principle, just Godin and Filipe would remain in the XI from the one used in the last match against Las Palmas and Moya, Gamez and Savic would return to their positions as usual in cup matches.
Possible XI: Moyá; Gámez, Savic, Godín, Filipe Luis; Kranevitter, Thomas, Oliver; Carrasco, Correa, Jackson.
In: Oblak, Moyá, Godín, Giménez, Savic, Filipe, Juanfran, Gámez, Augusto, Kranevitter, Thomas, Gabi, Koke, Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann, Vietto, and Jackson.
Out: Siqueira (Tactical), Lucas, Saul, Torres and Tiago (injury).