Atletico face PSV Eindhoven in the last set of last-16 round of games at the Philips Stadion on Wednesday night. Even though fans of Atletico have become accustomed to this stage of Europe's elite competition, it is still a milestone: the first time in club history the team is among Europe's last 16 for three consecutive years. Cholo has led his beloved Atletico to become one of the most reliable teams in the world and will try, once again, to win the only major trophy missing from his haul as the manager of the club.
Atletico's first obstacle to face along the way is Phillip Cocu's PSV side, who are currently leading the Dutch league and won it last year. They have to deal with the absence of striker and top scorer (17 goals in 23 appearences) Luuk de Jong through suspension. In addition, Andrés Guardado is a doubt with the final decision to be made on him just before the game. The Mexican occupies more central positions in PSV's midfield and is one of the teams key performers. The young Uruguayan, Gaston Pereiro and on-loan Chelsea player Marco van Ginkel must be watched closely by Atletico's midfield and defensive line.
Augusto back in the starting XI?
It seems as though Augusto Fernandez' recovery is as good as complete. The Argentine midfielder was included in Simeone's squad for the game and might even make the starting XI. According to Alejandro Mori from the training carried out by Atletico in the Philips Stadion, Cholo could be pondering the possibility of starting El Negro.
Thus, Augusto would occupy the number '5' position and would play closest to the middle, intercepting, interrupting PSV's attacks and also accepting the ball from his back four in an effort to create attacks from the middle. Gabi, Koke and Saul suffered a drop-off in performance when playing in that position and it seems without Tiago, Augusto is Simeone's next best option. It remains to be seen whether number 12 can play in such a high-paced game after nearly four weeks out of action.
A reinforced midfield
In essence, the starting defensive line is most likely the one we saw last weekend against Villarreal in La Liga. Stefan Savic has played well in the Champions League and will most likely partner Diego Godin with Luis Filipe and Juanfran on the left and right respectively.
As for the midfield, Simeone could start with Augusto along with Gabi contributing in a central position along with Saul. Meanwhile, Koke could play closer to the front with greater freedom of movement to help his creative inclination. The only remaining unknown would be the Griezmann's partner up front. Torres, Correa and Vietto will fight for all fight for that final spot in the starting XI.
Possible XI: Oblak; Juanfran, Savic (?), Godín, Filipe Luis; Augusto, Gabi, Koke, Saúl; Griezmann, Torres (?).
In: Oblak, Moyá, Godín, Giménez, Savic, Lucas, Filipe, Juanfran, Gámez, Kranevitter, Gabi, Koke, Óliver, Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann, Vietto, and Torres.
Out: Thomas, Carrasco and Tiago (injury).