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Q&A ahead of Inter Milan’s clash with Atletico Madrid

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Paris Saint Germain v Club Atletico de Madrid - International Champions Cup 2018
Thomas Partey of Atletico Madrid and Adrien Rabiot of Paris Saint Germain challenge for the ball during the International Champions Cup 2018 match between Atletico Madrid and Paris Saint Germain at the National Stadium on July 30, 2018 in Singapore.
Photo by Suhaimi Abdullah/Getty Images for ICC

Inter Milan has another International Champions Cup matchup before the start of the regular Serie A season.

With that in mind, we sat down with Jeremy Beren at Into The Calderon to talk a bit about the game with Atletico Madrid this weekend at the Wanda Metropolitano.

What gives you most hope as an Atletico supporter heading into the new season, and what is your biggest cause for concern?

Paris Saint Germain v Club Atletico de Madrid - International Champions Cup 2018
Atletico Madrid Diego Simeone manager of Atletico Madrid attends a press conference following the International Champions Cup match between Paris Saint Germain and Club de Atletico Madrid at the National Stadium on July 30, 2018 in Singapore.
Photo by Paul Miller/Getty Images for ICC

I’m really, really excited about the new season. Atlético pretty objectively have had the best window of La Liga’s top three to this point and have strengthened in just about every area. They kept and renewed their key defensive players, added wing depth and built a really balanced forward quartet. My biggest hope is that Simeone can appropriately Atleti’s newfound strength in attacking depth — and if I had to nitpick, I would have liked to add another central midfielder. But this has become a deep, balanced squad capable of playing multiple styles and ready to challenge domestically and in Europe.

What do you make of Atletico’s transfer business this summer? How optimistic are you about the signings you’ve made, and what are your thoughts on selling Sime Vrsaljko to Inter?

Atletico Madrid v Sporting CP - UEFA Europa League Quarter Final Leg One
Gelson Martins (R) of Sporting CP competes for the ball with Diego Godin (L) of Atletico de Madrid during the UEFA Europa League quarter final leg one match between Club Atletico Madrid and Sporting CP at Wanda Metropolitano stadium on April 5, 2018 in Madrid, Spain.
Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

This has been a great summer for Atlético, at least on paper. Adding Gelson Martins (for free!) and Thomas Lemar (for €70m!) gives Atleti more consistent playmaking and a directness they have lacked at times, and it will allow Simeone to rotate more liberally and change formation more frequently, too. New central midfielder Rodri has been compared to Sergio Busquets and has been a standout preseason performer, and Vrsaljko’s replacement Santiago Arias is an energetic, attack-minded full back — I’m intrigued to see him develop.

As for Vrsaljko, Simeone did not want him to leave, but Atlético at least had a replacement lined up. He had a frustrating two seasons thanks to erratic form and injuries, and the club was smart to capitalize on his strong World Cup and move him on. That said, I thought Atleti could have gotten more for him.

Atletico will play Real Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup on 15 August, which is less than a week away. Do you think the starting XI that Diego Simeone names on Saturday will reflect the team he’s going to pick against Real?

France v Croatia - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Final
Antoine Griezmann of France goes past Marcelo Brozovic of Croatia during the 2018 FIFA World Cup Final between France and Croatia at Luzhniki Stadium on July 15, 2018 in Moscow, Russia.
Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images

It will probably be a strong XI and I think it will look pretty similar to the one in Tallinn next week. Antoine Griezmann likely won’t start Saturday but could start the Super Cup, and Simeone might swap out a center back in the interim. Otherwise, whatever team Cholo rolls with is going to be one he considers worthy of starting that huge match.

Who do you expect to be Atletico’s most dangerous player going forward against Inter? Should Inter’s full-backs be nervous about coming up against new arrivals Thomas Lemar and Gelson Martins?

Paris Saint Germain v Club Atletico de Madrid - International Champions Cup 2018
Angel Di Maria of Paris Saint Germain tries to go around Angel Correa of Atletico Madrid during the International Champions Cup match between Paris Saint Germain and Club de Atletico Madrid at the National Stadium on July 30, 2018 in Singapore.
Photo by Lionel Ng/Getty Images

Gelson’s a pretty good shout because of his speed. Look out for Ángel Correa, as well — he’s versatile, shifty and a very good dribbler cutting in from the wing. He can do damage in a one-on-matchup.

Which Inter player are you most wary of ahead of Saturday’s match? Will it be Lucas Hernandez or Filipe Luis who is tasked with shutting out the Nerazzurri at left-back?

Brazil Press Conference and Training Session - 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia
Filipe Luis controls the ball during a Brazil training session ahead of the the 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia Quarter Final match between Brazil and Belgium at Tsentralny Stadium on July 5, 2018 in Kazan, Russia.
Photo by Buda Mendes/Getty Images

I want to see how Lautaro Martínez does. Atlético were linked quite heavily with him last year before he decided to move to Italy, and everything I’ve read/seen has presented a young forward brimming with potential. There aren’t many more difficult matchups on paper than a young striker against Diego Godín and the Atleti defense. As for who starts at left back, it looks like it will be Filipe Luís — Lucas just returned to training last week.

Considering that Atletico normally adopt a defensive-minded approach, and that Inter have never been shy to play that way themselves, how do you expect Saturday’s game to pan out?

Oddly, I think there will be goals here even as both sides are capable of tough, defensive football. I’ll go with a 2-1 win for Los Rojiblancos.

Match Info

Date & Time: Aug. 11, 2018, 9:05 p.m. local time (3:05 p.m. on the U.S. East Coast)

Where: Wanda Metropolitano (Madrid, Spain)

TV/Streaming: The match will be broadcast on ESPN Deportes and ESPN+ in the United States and streamed on ESPN Deportes Radio. Premier Sports 1 (UK); DAZN (Canada); SKY Go Italia (Italy).

Click here to find other outlets around the world.

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