Diego Simeone is eager to stabilise Atletico Madrid’s topsy-turvy season, intending to get back into the top-four as they face bottom-placed Levante.
Atletico Madrid were pushed out of the La Liga top-four earlier this month for the first time in a long period. Their high-profile defeat to Barcelona ensured the Catalans took fourth place and pushed the Rojiblancos out of the Champions League spots.
Considering Real Madrid and Sevilla are competing at the top of the table, it’s safe to assume Atletico are out of the title race. Simeone’s men responded to their loss against Barcelona with an unconvincing victory against Getafe in the last round of fixtures.
Simeone’s primary aim is to stabilise the team after the many ups and downs this season, which has led to them dropping out of the title race and into fifth place. Realistically, the Colchoneros should be targeting Real Betis’ third spot on the table and aiming to finish at least in the top four at the end of the season. They have a perfect chance to begin a strong run as they face Levante.
The bottom-placed La Liga side have a mountain to climb to stay up in the first division. The strugglers have emerged as a relegation favourite this term, as they sit 12 points off safety. Their total tally of 11 points from 23 games does not offer much hope for their survival in the Spanish top flight.
While Levante have been decent in attack, their defence has endured a torrid time. They have conceded 50 goals in La Liga, which is 11 more than the next team on the list. The Granotas scored twice in their last league game against Real Betis at home and looked destined to seal a positive result, only for the visitors to finish the game with a 4-2 win. They now face a tough test against a wounded Atletico Madrid, who are desperate to stay relevant in the race for the top four.
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Jose Maria Gimenez and Yannick Carrasco tested positive for Covid on 10th and 12th February respectively, which could put their participation in doubt. Meanwhile, Felipe is out following his red card against Getafe. Mario Hermoso and Stefan Savic should start in central defence, with Marcos Llorente and Reinildo occupying the full-back roles.
? Back to work with our minds set on Levante ? pic.twitter.com/t95r1w9wbN
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) February 14, 2022
Daniel Wass and Antoine Griezmann are absent for this game, as they are yet to recover fully from their respective problems. Simeone could stick with his preferred 4-4-2 against Levante.
One of the important changes Simeone could make is bringing in Rodrigo De Paul in place of Geoffrey Kondogbia in central midfield. This change could help the team transition well in attack, with Koke there to disrupt play when required.
Simeone could also include Joao Felix in the lineup, especially if the manager wants to protect Luis Suarez for their Champions League clash next week. Matheus Cunha could start with either Suarez or Felix in a front two, while Angel Correa and Thomas Lemar occupy wide, orthodox wing positions.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Llorente, Savic, Hermoso, Reinildo; Correa, De Paul, Koke, Lemar; Felix, Cunha
Shkodran Mustafi remains out of the contest due to an injury, while Roberto Soldado will miss out through suspension following his recent red card. Roger Marti is available once more after serving his suspension. Sergio Postigo, Ruben Vezo and Carlos Clerc are all doubts for the Atletico clash. Jose Campana is also out of the game through injury.
— Levante UD ? (@LevanteUD) February 15, 2022
Levante should field their own 4-4-2 for this game. Dani Cardenas should start between the posts, with Martin Caceres and Oscar Duarte in central defence. If fit, Carlos Clerc should start at left-back, with Jorge Miramon at right-back.
Manager Alessio Lisci should opt to start Gonzalo Melero and Mickael Malsa in central midfield, while Jose Luis Morales and Jorge de Frutos take the wide positions. They will be tasked with providing the goalscoring chances for Dani Gomez and Roger Marti, who should begin the game up top as the two strikers leading the line.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Cardenas; Miramon, Caceres, Duarte, Clerc; de Frutos, Melero, Malsa, Morales; Marti, Gomez
- Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in 36 of their last 38 home games in La Liga.
- Atletico have conceded at least two goals in 8 of their last nine matches in La Liga.
- Atletico have scored at least two goals in each of their last five matches in La Liga.
- Levante have lost their last eight away matches in La Liga.
- Levante have conceded 50 goals this season – the most by any side in the competition.
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After a bright start to the season, Correa’s form dipped markedly for the rest of the calendar year. The attacker only managed a solitary goal between late August and the 2nd of January. However, since the start of 2022, the Argentine has exploded into life, scoring six times in five league games.
With no spark on the attacking front right now, Atletico need inspiration in the final third, and Correa’s form could be the catalyst. The Rojiblancos are desperate to stay relevant in the top-four chase now that their title defence is dead in the water. Correa will have to be at the top of his game against Levante to help the club rise above Barcelona and move into the fourth spot.
Atletico Madrid 2-0 Levante
Levante will face a wounded Atletico side, who should ensure three points are secured at the Wanda Metropolitano as they come up against the worst defence in La Liga. At the same time, the Colchoneros may once again get the good feeling of holding on to a clean sheet after having become leaky in defence in recent weeks, shipping in seven goals in their last two games.