The time is now: Atletico's biggest game of the year has arrived in the second leg of the first knockout round of the UEFA Champions League against PSV Eindhoven. After the result in the first leg, a 0-0 in Eindhoven, the Calderon will be in charge of settling the tie. The first leg could have been more favorable to the Mattress Makers, and it is true that any kind of scored draw will be enough to see the visitors through to the next round, Atletico's defensive record at home is top notch. Cholo's lads need a win to be considered one of Europe's top eight teams for another year.
Los Rojiblancos were unable to score in the game played at the Phillips Stadion on February 24, despite playing with an extra player for over 20 minutes. At the time, Phillip Cocu ordered his defensive line to player closer to their goal and Atleti's attempts to break down down were useless. But this was back when Simeone's side had serious problems scoring goals. Now these problems seem a thing of the past and los Colchoneros have scored 10 goals in the last four games. Of course, the Dutch coach knows that and will perhaps seek to focus his side the other way.
The Dutch side arrive to the Calderon after a draw at the weekend to SC Heerenveen (12th in the Eredivisie), but with almost all of their players available. Only Gaston Pereiro (sent of in the first leg) and Simon Poulsen (injured) will be missing while Luuk de Jong will return after serving a one game suspension for reaching the yellow card limit.
Cholo could surprise us all
Diego Simeone declined to give away any clues regarding the eleven players who will start the game during the press conference prior to the match. This is a something Simeone usually does at such important occasions but this time it could also hide some kind of surprise in the starting XI. The same thing happened last year in the second leg against Bayer Leverkusen, when the Argentine surprised all by choosing to pick Cani, who practically had not played any games before.
However, Diego Simeone did give some clues about possible tactics. The coach said his team will compete in a 4-3-3 system. Let's see if this is true or if it is a trick to try to fool the opponent. In order to get a better feeling of what Simeone is thinking, we will have to wait up to an hour and fifteen minutes before starting the match.
"We will play a 4-3-3"
There are reasons to believe that Simeone could have tried to confuse Cocu, since, according to Mundo Deportivo reports of the last training session, Cholo tried a 4-4-2. In this eleven, pointed out by the Catalan newspaper, Augusto and Torres would be getting the nod to start, while Carrasco and Vietto would wait for their chance from the bench.
On the other hand, if Simeone finally opted for 4-4-3 system, he may choose the same or a very similar XI to the one he used during last Saturday's victory over Depor. In addition, if Augusto (who was given a rest in the last league game) was one of the novelties, the manager would have to bench one of the players who form the trio Gabi-Koke-Saul, something that seems quite complicated nowadays.
Possible XI: Oblak; Juanfran, Giménez, Godín, Filipe Luis; Gabi, Koke, Saúl; Carrasco, Griezmann, Vietto.
In: Oblak, Moyá, Godín, Giménez, Lucas, Filipe, Juanfran, Gámez, Kranevitter, Augusto, Gabi, Koke, Saúl, Carrasco, Correa, Griezmann, Vietto, Torres.
Out: Thomas, Óliver (Tactical), Savic and Tiago (injury).