La Liga Preview: Atletico Madrid v Levante

Amid the excitement over Fernando Torres' return, Atletico Madrid can apply pressure at the top of La Liga when Levante visit on Saturday.

The Spanish champions signed fan favourite Torres from Milan on an 18-month lon deal during the mid-season break, although the former Chelsea and Liverpool forward will not be available to feature at the Calderon this weekend. 

Torres' move will not become official until January 5 - when the Italian transfer window opens - and he will be officially unveiled on Sunday. 

Diego Simeone's charges can add to the feelgood factor enveloping Torres' homecoming by starting 2015 off with a victory in the first La Liga fixture of the new year.

"I'm happy to see Fernando with Atleti again. We've grown and now we're back together," said chief executive Miguel Angel Gil Marin this week.

"To sign Torres, we followed a purely sporting criteria. We want to continue to compete at the same level as in recent years and Fernando will help us stay there. The social, economic and brand criteria of the club were secondary. 

"The sporting aspect has always come first."

A 4-1 win over Athletic Bilbao prior to the mid-season break kept Atletico within reach of Barcelona and Real Madrid above them, and a victory over Levante would see the top three separated by just a point - albeit potentially temporarily.

Barca and Real play Real Sociedad and Valencia respectively on Sunday.

However, having lost just once in their last seven Liga outings, Levante have been resurgent following the appointment of Lucas Alcaraz in October and will pose a threat to Atletico.

Levante were second bottom of the table when Alcaraz took over from Jose Luis Mendilibar but a strong run, which included a derby success over rivals Valencia, has seen them climb to 15th. 

Alcaraz wants to see his side pick up where they left off against the champions but warned of the threat their hosts will pose, especially from set-pieces.

"They have scored 60-odd per cent of their goals have conceded very few with that strategy," Alcaraz told Superdeporte.

"We must treat it as a threat and especially as a challenge - to beat them on their own turf.

"If before we thought and trained, now we have to think and train harder to find solutions and overtake our rivals. Therefore we must do more."

Papakouli Diop, Jesus Fernandez and Ruben Garcia could all feature for Levante having returned to training in recent days following gastroenteritis, while Simeone has been boosted by the return to training of Cristian Ansaldi after a knee injury. 

Atleti duo Koke and Mario Mandzukic are back after serving suspensions.