Atlético Madrid vs Málaga Preview: Team News, Classic Encounter, Key Battles & More
The brand new Wanda Metropolitano stadium hosts its very first La Liga match against Andalusian side Malaga on Saturday, three days after Atletico Madird took on Roma in the Champions League.
Los Rojiblancos face a usually tricky outfit, although Malaga have failed to register a win in the Spanish top flight this season.
After two successive 0-0 draws on the bounce, Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone will be keen to ensure his side's energy levels are high and that their recent failure to hit the back of the net does not become a long-term problem.
With talisman Antoine Griezmann returning to the side after his two-game domestic ban following a red card against Girona, the goal drought should end on Saturday.
In the same fixture last season, an end-to-end game between the two La Liga sides ended up with both teams down to 10 men, with six goals in a highly contested match up.
What started off as a 2-0 lead for Atletico at the Vicente Calderon ended up with Malaga fighting to the death in a spirited display, twice coming back into the game.
That was until a brace from Yannick Carrasco put the game beyond doubt after former Manchester City defender Stefan Savic put his team under the microscope with a second yellow, leaving the hosts battling with 10 men for the last half an hour.
Malaga forward Gonzalo Castro ensured the tie ended with an equal number of players for each side as the battle finished with eight yellow cards and two reds.
Saúl Ñíguez vs Zdravko Kuzmanović
This will be a competitive fight between the brilliance of Saul, who has been tied down this summer to an eight-year contract extension, showcasing his importance as the future of Los Colchoneros, against the experienced and well-travelled Kuzmanović, who has played for Inter Milan and Fiorentina.
Saul will be looking to break forward at every opportunity, putting his excellent long-range shooting and passing ability to good use.
It will be up to Kuzmanović and his defensive minded partner to stop him, while also offering a threat going forward to ensure they don't go four games without a win.
After featuring for Atletico in midweek in the Champions League, Griezmann will return to domestic duties after completing his two-match ban. Other than that, Simeone has a full squad to choose from, except for right-back Sime Vrsaljko, who sustained a foot injury recently.
For Malaga, the away side have a number of injuries to contend with as they look to get points on the board. Midfielder Recio remains a doubt with a hamstring strain, while Watford loanee Adalberto Peñaranda is still out with a broken foot.
There is probably only one outcome here as Simeone's side seek to get back on the scoresheet in all competitions.
With Griezmann back playing in La Liga in Atletico's first home match of the season at their brand new stadium, expect fireworks on and off the pitch, as well as a more accomplished display.
Meanwhile, it's hard to see where the inspiration will come from as the visitors struggle with performances, failing to churn out results. It may be damage limitation in a tricky away tie against a much stronger opposition for Malaga.
Atletico Madrid 4-0 Malaga