Simeone wary of Atletico cup upset
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone will rest Radamel Falcao for Wednesday night's Copa del Rey last-32 first leg at third-tier Jaen, but says the rest of his players cannot afford to relax after being the victims of an upset in last year's competition.
Atletico slipped embarrassingly out of the Copa 3-1 on aggregate to Segunda B Albacete last December, a result which cost Simeone's predecessor Gregorio Manzano his job.
Jaen almost disappeared completely in 2010, but were brought back from the brink and are currently sitting second in their Segunda B division. With a full house of 17,000 expected at the Andalucians' La Nueva Victoria ground the game could not be taken lightly, Simeone said.
"If we are not focused this game could be a trap," said the coach nicknamed El Cholo. "The Copa is like that, it happens everywhere, many teams from the top flight are knocked out. We must prepare very well for the game. We need to play as we have been playing. We cannot underestimate them. They have kids in the centre of the park who are playing very well."
Nevertheless, with Atletico currently engaged on three fronts, Simeone said he would make some changes to his line-up for the game, with top-scorer Falcao one of those who will remain in Madrid.
The first choice of back four Juanfran Torres, Diego Godin, Joao Miranda and Felipe Luis have also been excused duty for the trip south.
Brazilian centre-forward Diego Costa is likely to take Falcao's place up front, with Adrian Lopez getting another chance to kick start his season on the wing and midfield starlet Oliver Torres, 17, expected to feature from the bench.
This does not mean Atletico would not approach the game with the intensity which has become their hallmark in recent times, the Argentine coach said.
"We will set out to play at the maximum intensity and aggression as in all our games," Simeone said. "It is normal that Jaen's president wants to see the top players, but this is one of the few moments of the year when we can give Falcao a rest. We still think we can compete well."