18 September 2014 22:56
Atletico Madrid may be forced into changes for the visit of Celta Vigo as they look to maintain their unbeaten La Liga start.
The euphoria of last weekend’s 2-1 derby victory over rivals Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu was tempered with the shock 3-2 UEFA Champions League defeat at Olympiacos on Tuesday, but Diego Simeone could see his side go top with a win on Saturday.
They currently lie in fourth place and trail leaders Barcelona by two points but should they clinch a maximum return, they will climb to the summit with the three sides above them not in action until Sunday and Monday.
But any victory over Celta may have to come without Croatia international striker Mario Mandzukic, who suffered a broken nose against the Greek champions and underwent an operation on Thursday.
The incident happened in the third minute but it did not deter Mandzukic, who went on to score before the end of the first half and played on with nasal plugs.
Simeone, who will serve the last of his four-match touchline ban in the league, could call on new arrival Alessio Cerci, who made his debut as a second-half substitute in Greece.
Goalkeeper Miguel Angel Moya is expected to be recalled after missing the Champions League defeat, while last weekend’s match-winner Arda Turan could keep the starting berth he was rewarded with during the week.
Frenchman Antoine Griezmann is also on standby after he came off the bench at Olympiacos to net a late consolation.
Thursday marked 1,000 days of Simeone’s reign and midfielder Koke praised the Argentinian’s impact on his game, and that of the team.
He told the club’s official website: “He’s given me confidence and that virtue of going out to matches and play as I am, and the eagerness to win every match.
“He’s made Atletico de Madrid grow at all levels, football-wise and personally.”
They meet a Celta side just one place and two points behind them and under new head coach Eduardo Berizzo, they have made an undefeated start in La Liga this season.
In fact, they will be disappointed that their points tally is not greater, after throwing away a two-goal lead last weekend in the final 20 minutes against Real Sociedad.
Recent history favours Atletico, who have won the last four league encounters between the two sides.
However, Celta’s last two victories over Atletico have come at the Vicente Calderon – 3-0 and 3-2 in 2006 and 2007 respectively – and Berizzo’s side will head to the capital with confidence.