Los Rojiblancos face a brand new challenge on Saturday evening when they come up against struggling Deportivo de La Coruña. The Galician side has not won a match for almost three months when they snatched all three points from Eibar in Riazor back in December.
Furthermore, Víctor Sánchez rues the absence of, arguably, his most important player; Lucas Pérez, who has 15 goals and eight assists in 27 appearances, has not been able to recover from an injury that kept him out of training all week. Deportivo also have absences across their defensive line: Luisinho, Juanfran and Sidney, who usually start for Sánchez , won't be in the squad for injury reasons.
Meanwhile Atletico will try to maintain a good run of results. The Mattress Makers executed a stunning performance in Mestalla last Sunday night and will try to keep the gap between Barcelona as low as possible while trying to increase it with Real Madrid. In theory, both teams, have easy fixtures against Getafe and Las Palmas respectively, and should get wins while Atleti are still trying to maintain their grasp on second place in La Liga.
Partido a partido
Atleti are faced with the biggest game of their season on Thursday night and Diego Simeone will be mindful of that. He will not, however, betray his philosophy of 'partido a partido' (game by game) and won't rotate against Deportivo. After four games in 10 days, Atleti were finally offered a six day break to rest and prepare for their game against Depor.
According to reports from the last training session los Colchoneros carried out on Friday morning, Diego Simeone will stick with a starting XI very similar to the one he chose for Mestalla and the one he could line-up with against PSV on Tuesday. At the end of the day, to rest his players does not assure that they are going to play better in the Champions League match and the Argentine coach considers every game highly critical at this stage of the season.
The 4-3-3 could be back
The manager will try to put the game to bed as early as possible in order to make substitutions in the second half that would reduce pressure on his players. To achieve this, he could use a very offensive system in which the only change would be the incoming Yannick Carrasco for Matias Kranevitter. Thus, the front line would be reinforced with a more attacking, direct player and the midfield would consist of the usual trio of Gabi-Koke-Saul.
Carrasco, after recovering from his injury, played some spectacular minutes against Valencia, and should regain his place in the starting XI. Vietto continues to pursue that goal he covets so desperately while Griezmann will try to continue his streak and land his fourth goal in four consecutive games.
As for the defensive line, the leader Godin returns after missing the last game due to an acute gastroenteritis. Giménez will retain his starter spot (even more likely when Savic is still injured) and the incombustible Juanfran and Filipe will occupy the wings.
Possible XI: Oblak; Juanfran, Giménez, Godín, Filipe Luis; Gabi, Koke, Saúl; Carrasco, Griezmann, Vietto.
In: Oblak, Moyá, Godín, Giménez, Lucas, Filipe, Juanfran, Gámez, Kranevitter, Gabi, Koke, Thomas, Óliver, Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann, Vietto.
Out: Savic, Torres and Tiago (injury).