No Falcao, no fun?
Falcao, Arda, Godín, Filipe, Gabi, Juanfran and Joel have been excluded from the player list for the second to last match of the Europa League group stage. The opponent still allows for resting most of the arsenal on the rojiblanco squad, yet supporters start to feel uneasy about the fact that rumors of a December sale of Falcao coincide with not playing him in Europe. Is this another Mendes trick or are Atleti fans going paranoid with the tabloid treatment the Spanish sports press is giving to the issue of a possible midseason sale of Falcao?
Add to this, can we still expect to play solid football while missing 3 of the 4 starting defenses and our two international stars? Is the B team plan that we were so thrilled about at first, something that could backfire?
Eduardo Wilson, remember the name. He was the player that broke our great streak of 16 straight wins in European competitions on group stage day 4. This is an all time record we might never see again.
In the last preview we spoke about sealing the pass. The record setting Atlético lost all their records in a matter of five day. Tiredness? Too relaxed? Who knows? Maybe a bit of both. From the slump of losing in Valencia, to the surprise of losing their first European match in over a year. (16 consecutive wins from the last defeat against Udinese, up until the most recent defeat versus Académica Coimbra.)
After recovering morale with two wins against Granada and Getafe, Atlético need to seal qualification and hope Académica fight for the second spot and beat Viktoria Pilzen. This will practically secure Atlético as group leader.
Hapoel is a very soft opponent who has lost 3 matches and was only able to reap an away draw (curiously vs Academica, something Atleti was unable to do). The day 4, 4-0 defeat against Viktoria Plzen was their all time worst result in European competitions that goes back to 2007. Atletico beat Hapoel away in the first group stage match 0-3 with a similar squad. This gives the rojiblancos a bright prospect to face the Tel Aviv side tomorrow.
Possible Hapoel starting XI: Edel, Antebi, Badir, Shushan, Pantsil, Bruno, Djemba-Djemba, Maman, Toto Tamuz, Ben Haim and Vermouth.
Hapoel’s coach was sacked after match day two. The current coach is Yossi Abuksis.
The squad called up includes Silvio who recovered from injury. After his bad performance versus Académica we should expect Kader to start. Pulido also made a big mistake in the penalty and second goal for Académica. That said, we expect the canterano to start, though Miranda could take his spot to provide more defensive security.
On Saúl’s 18th birthday he has been included in the list along with canteranos Kader and Pedro.
The full list is:
The starting eleven could likely be Asenjo, Cata, Miranda, Cisma, Kader, Tiago, Raúl García, Koke, Mario, Diego Costa and Adrian.
Should I keep predicting after failing so often? I would say Atletico prefer a solid win with a clean sheet to solidify their position as group leaders.