Atletico Madrid will be aiming to strengthen their grip on fourth place in the La Liga standings when they play hosts to Valencia this weekend.
Atletico Madrid will be hoping to put an end to their three-match winless streak across all competitions when they lock horns with Valencia at the Wanda Metropolitano in La Liga on Saturday night.
It has been a week to forget for Diego Simeone’s side as they dropped crucial points in the league after being held to a 2-2 draw by Villarreal. It was followed by a disappointing loss to Athletic Bilbao in the Spanish Supercup semi-final, following which Los Rojiblancos were eliminated from the Copa del Rey by Real Sociedad.
Fourth in the table currently, Atletico can close the gap to third-placed Real Betis to one point with a win. With the likes of Real Sociedad, Barcelona and Rayo Vallecano lurking, the reigning champions cannot afford any more slip-ups in the race for the top four. Standing in their way will be Valencia, who themselves are not in their best form in La Liga.
Los Che have failed to win their last three league games and were held to a 1-1 draw by Sevilla in their most recent outing. Jose Bordalas’ side are ninth in the La Liga standings, with just four points separating them from their opponents this weekend. So, a victory at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday night could take them to within just a point of the top four.
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Atletico Madrid will be without star striker Antoine Griezmann, who is nursing an injury, while Marcos Llorente is a doubt for the game. In addition, Geoffrey Kondogbia is set to miss out due to suspension. Diego Simeone will welcome Stefan Savic back to the squad after a two-month injury layoff, although he is unlikely to be risked from the start against Valencia.
The reigning La Liga champions will set up in their usual 4-4-2 shape in front of goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Llorente is expected to recover in time for the game to slot in at right-back, while Renan Lodi should start at left-back and provide width on the overlap. Jose Maria Gimenez and Mario Hermoso should occupy the central defensive positions.
The onus of keeping Atletico Madrid in control of the tie will lie on the shoulders of captain Koke, who will look to recover and recycle possession in midfield. He will have support from Argentine Rodrigo De Paul, who will also have to provide the forward thrust from the centre of the park.
The threat from the wide areas will come from Yannick Carrasco and Thomas Lemar. Both the wingers will be key to creating the goalscoring opportunities for the two forwards, who ought to be Luis Suarez and Angel Correa, with Matheus Cunha being an option from the bench for Simeone.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Llorente, Gimenez, Hermoso, Lodi; Carrasco, De Paul, Koke, Lemar; Correa, Suarez
Valencia will have to make do without the services of captain Jose Gaya, who is suspended for the contest. Gabriel Paulista and Jasper Cillessen are sidelined with injuries. Carlos Soler and Daniel Wass are likely to return to boost Jose Bordalas’s options ahead of Los Che’s trip to Madrid.
With Cillessen unavailable, Jaume Domenech will start in between the sticks for Valencia. He will be protected by the centre-back pairing of Mouctar Diakhaby and Omar Alderete, while Thierry Correia and Toni Lato line up as the two full-backs on the right and left sides, respectively.
Hugo Guillamon will anchor the midfield for Los Che, while the fit-again Soler should provide the creative outlet from the middle. Out wide, Yunus Musah and Helder Costa will look to take the game to the Atletico Madrid full-backs and act as the primary chance-creating avenues for the visiting side.
Goncalo Guedes, who is Valencia’s top scorer this term with eight goals, should start as one of the two strikers up top, alongside Hugo Duro, who had scored twice in the reverse fixture. Maxi Gomez will provide an option from the bench but will need to up his game.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Domenech; Correia, Diakhaby, Alderete, Lato; Musah, Guillamon, Soler, Costa; Duro, Guedes
- Atletico Madrid have not lost in their last 14 La Liga games against Valencia (W8 D6).
- Valencia have failed to win in their last 12 La Liga games against sides from Madrid (D2 L10), losing the previous seven in a row.
- Atletico Madrid have collected only four points from their last six games in La Liga (W1 D1 L4).
- Valencia have won two of their previous three away La Liga games (L1) — as many as in their last 24 matches on the road in the competition.
- Atletico Madrid have kept a clean sheet in five of their last seven La Liga matches at home. However, Los Rojiblancos have also shipped in at least two goals in five of their previous six games in the competition.
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The Uruguayan international was one of the main driving forces behind Atletico Madrid’s La Liga title triumph last season but has struggled to produce the same level of performances this term, which in turn has affected the team’s fortunes. So far this season, Suarez has scored just seven times in 19 La Liga matches, going without a goal in his last seven outings in the competition.
If Los Rojiblancos are to emerge out of their recent malaise, the 34-year-old will have to recapture his best form and start producing the goods in the final third of the pitch in the matches to come.
Atletico Madrid 1-1 Valencia
Atletico Madrid have failed to pick up a win in their last three games in all competitions, losing each of their previous two. Things have just not been clicking for Diego Simeone’s side recently, and coming up against a Valencia side who themselves are going through a difficult phase should ideally provide them with a good opportunity to bounce back.
But Jose Bordalas’s side have won two of their last three away matches in La Liga and managed to hold high-flying Sevilla to a draw in their previous outing. The reverse fixture between the two teams had ended in a 3-3 stalemate, and The Hard Tackle is predicting Atletico and Valencia to play out another draw, albeit with fewer goals.