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Primera División

  • September 26, 2010
  • • 20:00
  • • Estadio Vicente Calderón, Madrid
  • Referee: César Muñiz Fernández
  • • Attendance: 35000
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La Liga Preview: Atletico Madrid – Zaragoza

La Liga Preview: Atletico Madrid – Zaragoza

Los Colchoneros have had a difficult week but will want to finish it on a high against los Manos...

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After two rounds of action, Atletico Madrid boasted a perfect six points from six but have since struggled to recapture such form, stumbling in two tough matches. On Sunday afternoon they will expect to get back on the winning bandwagon by defeating a Zaragoza side struggling to find their touch in the opening weeks of the campaign.

Victories over Sporting de Gijon and Athletic Bilbao had the pundits purring over los Colchoneros in the opening weeks of the season, with some tipping them to perhaps even be title contenders. Since those heady days they’ve slipped 2-1 at home against Barcelona before drawing 1-1 in Valencia – not disgraceful results by any means, but not exactly title winning form either.

Goalkeeper David De Gea has had a big say in both matches. It was the youngster who helped to keep things respectable against la Blaugrana last Sunday night, while he excelled in the midweek match against los Che. “The team worked hard and defended well. This also stopped them from scoring more goals, not just my saves. We must keep working hard,” the custodian told the media after the game.

Quique Sanchez Flores would doubtless appreciate some more attacking punch from his men in the aftermath of their two most recent outings, with Diego Costa failing to fire when given the chance to replace Sergio Aguero.

At their best, Atletico have shown they can match anyone, but questions still remain over their ability to consistently perform, especially when Diego Forlan and ‘El Kun’ are not firing.

Salvage Operation

A strong push away from the foot of the table in the second half of last season suggested that Zaragoza were ready to realise their potential and climb into the middle zone of La Liga. Those hopes have been quickly dashed at the beginning of this campaign as they lie bottom of the standings going into the weekend, boasting just two points to their credit.

Scoreless draws against Deportivo La Coruna and newly promoted Hercules presently sandwich losses against Malaga (5-3) and Racing Santander (2-0), leaving coach Jose Aurelio Gay with a good deal of head scratching to do.

“It’s a point that tells me very little,” he lamented after the midweek fixture. “There are things that are salvageable from the match such as our fighting spirit, but we could not win even though we created double the amount of chances of our rivals.

“I am convinced that with the attitude shown by the players we can come out of the relegation zone. I am optimistic; we have good players, a great spirit and we have plenty of time to recover.”

After a difficult first season back in La Primera last term, these were not words the coach wanted to be uttering at any stage this term, especially at such an early juncture.

Defeat on Sunday looks probable, and it may not be long before the red warning light begins to flash at La Romareda. 


TEAM NEWS

Atletico


Tomas Ujfalusi remains suspended following his crunching challenge on Lionel Messi last Sunday, which earned him a straight red card.

Loc Colchoneros are otherwise in a strong state. Sergio Aguero and Tiago could be drafted back into the squad after missing out in midweek due to slight injuries, while the medical staff at the club are targeting November returns for long-term issues Sergio Asenjo and Borja Gonzalez.

Zaragoza

There have been no fresh reports of injury problems following the midweek clash. Indeed, the squad that Jose Aurelio Gay called for the clash against Hercules was identical to that he named for the Racing Santander clash.

Victor Laguardia and Ikechukwu Uche are long-term issues, while Jorge Lopez has yet to return after a sprained ankle.

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Last Five Matches
Odds
Team News
Available Squads
1David de GeaGoalkeeper
14L. PereaDefender
2Diego GodínDefender
15Álvaro DomínguezDefender
3Filipe LuisDefender
20SimãoMidfielder
12Paulo AssunçaoMidfielder
21ReyesStriker
5TiagoMidfielder
-Diego CostaStriker
10Diego ForlánStriker
1JoelGoalkeeper
6Antonio LópezDefender
8Raúl GarcíaMidfielder
-Fran MéridaMidfielder
16Sergio AgüeroStriker
4Mario SuárezMidfielder
20Juan ValeraDefender
25Leo FrancoGoalkeeper
24Ivan ObradovicDefender
4Matteo ContiniDefender
20Jiri JarosikMidfielder
6Maurizio LanzaroDefender
21Ander HerreraMidfielder
29KevinMidfielder
23Leonardo PonzioMidfielder
14GabiMidfielder
17LafitaMidfielder
-M. PérezStriker
22A. PintérMidfielder
20Said BoutaharMidfielder
-Jorge LópezMidfielder
-BraulioStriker
1Toni DoblasGoalkeeper
14Florent Sinama-PongolleStriker
23Nicolás BertoloMidfielder
Players to Watch
Diego Godín
Diego Godín
Position: Defender
Squad Number: 2
Games Goals YC RC
34 4 11 0
Inevitably the focus tends to fall on the attacking options at Quique Sanchez Flores’ disposal, but Diego Godin has been an absolute rock in the heart of the Atletico defence in the early part of the campaign. After excelling for Uruguay at the World Cup in the summer, the former Villarreal man has maintained his high standards into the early part of this season and is already establishing himself as a vital squad member.
Florent Sinama-Pongolle
Florent Sinama-Pongolle
Position: Striker
Squad Number: 14
Games Goals YC RC
0 0 0 0
Finding a goal scorer has been a problem for Zaragoza since they lost the talents of Humberto Suazo in the summer, and the man charged with filling his ample boots has been Florent Sinama-Pongolle. As yet the former Atletico player has yet to find the net, but with his motivation high for this match expect to see him seriously threaten los Colchoneros.

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