After a defeat, it is important to return quickly to winning. That is the task facing Atletico Madrid at the Vicente Calderon on Saturday against Malaga. The rojiblancos cannot afford another tumble after a defeat to a direct rival last weekend.
Malaga will be responsible of at least making it difficult for the capital club to win. The Juande Ramos’ lads are exactly in the middle of classification table and have shown signs of improvement in recent games. The Andalusian team not only faces one of the toughest teams to beat in La Liga, but also has to do it with up to seven relevant absences. Among them, we can emphasize the loss of the former Atletico canterano Keko and the usual starting central defense partnership of Weligton and Diego Llorente.
Simeone quotes from press conference
The coach took advantage of one of the questions to analyze his rivals: “We face Malaga in an improvement period for them where they have achieved consecutive important results. They are working well, sitting deep when playing away, leveraging free spaces with Sandro and Castro. They have fast players in the wings with quality and ability to make efforts but also able to build-up the plays. Malaga is a good team.”
Simeone was also asked about possible doubts in the team ahead of this potentially tricky fixture.
“We work to improve,” the coach said. “When a game ends we don’t stop to think what happened but how we can resolve the next match.”
Atleti without their guide
Simeone was crystal clear with respect to who will be the replacement for the banned Koke, who was sent off in the Sanchez Pizjuan.
“It’s the natural spot of Saul,” he said. “He’s got a bigger capacity to appear in the rival area, to score and to win in aerial duels. He can strengthen us with other features.”
Hence, the #8 will accompany Gabi in the center of the park and as part of an expected four-man midfield.
Saul is not the kind of midfielder that always wants the ball at his boots and that could cause the entrance of Nico Gaitan in the starting XI. The Argentine would be in charge of supply, as the team loses Koke’s incisive passing and assists. We will see if Gaitan will occupy a more centered role (the same way Koke does) or if he shows off his skills from the right side of the pitch.
Regarding the defensive line, Cholo will keep the same four men that allow Oblak to be the keeper that concedes the fewest goals in the league. Meanwhile, in the vanguard Antoine Griezmann and Yannick Carrasco will try to resume their respective scoring runs and Kevin Gameiro will be the reference point at striker.
Andre Moreira, Sime Vrsalijko, Lucas Hernandez, Tiago, Thomas Partey, Angel Correa and Fernando Torres are expected to wait for their opportunities from the bench while Jose Gimenez is out of the squad despite having received the medical clearance for the game. Miguel Angel Moya, Augusto Fernandez and living legend Alessio Cerci will be absent through injury