Among the highlights — Juanfran will return to the lineup, replacing Santiago Arias at right back. Saúl Ñiguez is expected to remain at left back as Filipe Luis and Lucas continue to deal with injuries. Rodrigo and Thomas Partey will likely feature as the defensive midfielders, while Thomas Lemar will return to feature on the wing opposite Koke. Finally, Ángel Correa might replace Nikols Kalinić and start at forward alongside Antoine Griezmann.
This 11 is similar to the team that defeated Espanyol 1-0 at the Calderon to finish out 2018. Again, it features Rodri and Thomas in a dynamic central midfield and sees Correa moved to forward, where he has yet to start this season. A possible concern is that the Argentine’s speed and passing abilities will be lost when partnered with a similar player up top. That said, Atlético have won seven of the past eight matches with Correa in the XI.
Atleti have totaled two wins and two draws in four matches with Saúl at left back. The Spaniard has sured up the defense, as the team has allowed just one goal in those matches. However, the team has missed him on the attacking end and they’ve notched just five goals over that span. A possible move for AS Roma’s Aleksandar Kolarov could be the solution there.