After two consecutive 0-0 draws away to Valencia and Roma, Atletico will finally play their first home match in the brand new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. The rojiblancos had to travel for their first three La liga matches and their first Champions League Match as they finished construction on the new grounds.
Atletico is currently locked in a four-way tie for sixth in the table with five points from three games, but will need a win to keep pace with undefeated Barcelona and Real Sociedad. Their 0-0 draw at Roma places them tied for second with the Italian club in their group after Chelsea defeated Qarabag 6-0 on Tuesday. Atletico won their last four Champions League groups, but have given themselves an uphill battle as they still have to face Chelsea twice and travel to Azerbaijan.
The Colchoneros did not score any goals in their last two matches despite 33 shots and controlling the play of both matches. They will therefore be happy to welcome Antoine Griezmann back to La Liga play after his two game suspension for arguing with a referee. Angel Correa could also win a start up top ahead of Luciano Vietto after his fellow countryman failed to impress in the last two matches.
Malaga have struggled out of the gate and sit tied for last place in La Liga with Alaves. The club on Spain’s Costa de Sol failed to score a goal in their first two matches before Diego Gonzalez leveled their match against Las Palmas at 1-1 early in the second half. However, Jonathan Calleri answered in the 69th minute and Loic Remy sealed the win in the 88th. Former Atletico youth player Borja Baston is yet to impress for the blue and whites despite scoring 40 goals in two seasons on loan to Zaragoza and Eibar from 2014-2016. Malaga will need improvement all around to challenge Atletico.
Atletico and Malaga have played each other 25 times in their history with Atletico leading the series 14-6 including 5 draws. Atleti won both matches last season as Malaga finished 11th in the table. However, Malaga gave Atletico trouble as recently as 2015 when the blue and whites defeated the Colcohoneros 1-0 at La Rosaleda.
Yannick Ferriera Carrasco and Kevin Gameiro scored early goals to mount a 2-0 lead at the Calderon last October before Sandro Ramirez made the score 2-1. Kevin Gameiro answered with his second and Atletico held on despite a second yellow for Stefan Savic reducing the team to 10 men. Ignacio Camacho brought the game close at 3-2 in the 64th, but Carrasco sealed the victory in the 86th minute. Atletico pitched a shutout in the return trip to La Rosaleda in April, with Koke and Filipe Luis knocking in the goals for the 2-0 victory.
Simeone is not expected to make many changes despite the consecutive 0-0 draws. Sime Vrsaljko, Augusto Fernandez and Kevin Gameiro remain sidelined with injury. Griezmann will return to La Liga play and Angel Correa and Carrasco are likely to return to the starting lineup to add some attacking flair in place of Vietto and Gabi.
Malaga played a 4-2-3-1 last time out after making three changes from the starting 11 in their loss to Girona. Roberto Jimenez started in goal with Michel Macedo, Ximo Navarro, Aythami Artiles and Dani Castellano along the back line. Alberto Aquilani and Javi Castellano were the deep lying midfielders with Oussama Tannane, Jonathan Viera and Alen Halilovic in the attacking roles. Borja Baston was the lone striker.
With Malaga’s low form and attacking players returning to Atletico’s lineup it should be an easy home win in the Wanda Metropolitano Debut. Hopefully, the Colchoneros can sell out the stadium as a good christening for many future triumphs.