Atletico Madrid vs Almeria Preview: Probable Lineups, Prediction, Tactics, Team News & Key Stats

Atletico Madrid will bid to make it six La Liga wins in a row when relegation-threatened Almeria visit the Civitas Metropolitano on Sunday.

Fresh off the back of a 2-1 win over ten-man Rayo Vallecano in La Liga last weekend, Atletico Madrid will take on Almeria this weekend. The hosts’ form since the turn of the year has been simply stunning. And a run of five wins in a row now has them hot on the heels of cross-city rivals Real Madrid in the race for second place.

Diego Simeone’s men have been particularly brilliant at home, where they have won six of their last eight appearances, with five of those successes coming with a clean sheet, accumulating a massive 22 points from eight games.

Indeed, only Barcelona have shipped fewer than their tally of 20 league goals, of which just 11 have come on home turf, while they are now looking to stretch a run of 12 outings without a loss. Atleti’s new target is to finish second, which looked practically unattainable only a few months ago.

While it is true that Real Madrid’s inability to contend for the title, as well as their cup distractions, have opened a window, Atletico Madrid have an opportunity to transform a grim-looking season into at least a decent one. The expectation now is that they can carry this momentum into next season and make a serious title push.

Visitors Almeria, on the other hand, are the only team in the Spanish top division yet to win on the road this season, with nine losses and four draws from 13 games. Rubi’s team has had an uphill battle in their first season back in the Spanish top flight, as they enter Matchday 29 hovering around the relegation zone.

Almeria at least moved out of the bottom three with a morale-boosting 2-1 victory over fellow strugglers Valencia. Gonzalo Melero and Srdan Babic scored early in the second half, and Almeria were able to hold onto their lead. They currently sit just three points above the relegation zone.

However, their wretched away form has been their undoing throughout the campaign, particularly as they have lost without scoring on five occasions. The reverse fixture back in January finished 1-1. But Almeria have not beaten the hosts since 2014. The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at this fixture and tries to predict the tactics the teams could deploy.

Team News & Tactics

Atletico Madrid

Long-term absentee Reinildo is out for the rest of the season with a knee injury. Atletico attacker Memphis Depay will also miss the game against Almeria as he continues his recovery from a thigh injury that he picked up while on international duty with the Netherlands.

Manager Diego Simeone has no reason whatsoever to change his 3-5-2 formation, with Nahuel Molina and Yannick Carrasco acting as superb attacking wing-backs. While Molina stole the headlines as he converted with a cool, composed finish, Carrasco was involved in both goals in the first half.

For the first, the Belgian made a quick layoff for Antoine Griezmann, facilitating the quick turnover that resulted in Molina’s goal. On Mario Hermoso’s header, Carrasco lofted in a pinpoint set-piece delivery that doubled their advantage. Needless to say, Simeone’s rampaging wing-back duo will play a key role here.

There’s no looking past Jan Oblak, who showed his elite goalkeeper credentials last time out and also made his 390th appearance in between the sticks, becoming the most-capped foreign player for Atleti, surpassing a certain club legend in Diego Godin. In front of the Slovenian, Stefan Savic, Jose Gimenez, and Hermoso will form a three-man central defensive unit.

In midfield, veteran Koke and Rodrigo De Paul are expected to fulfil the holding midfield positions, with third central midfielder Marcus Llorente occupying a more attacking role, almost slotting as the right-sided winger to offer more dynamism with his pressing, and ball progression.

With ten goals in La Liga this season, Alvaro Morata perhaps was not as efficient as one might ave expected. But he is still the club’s top goal-scorer. And with Depay still unavailable, the Spaniard will probably have to shoulder even more offensive responsibilities, with Antoine Griezmann pulling the strings from the second striker role behind him.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Oblak; Savic, Gimenez, Hermoso; Molina, Llorente, Koke, De Paul, Carrasco; Morata, Griezmann


El Bilal Toure is the only injury concern for Almeria as he continues his recovery from a muscle injury, while Chumi is suspended due to an accumulation of yellow cards. Rubi will continue deploying the typical 4-3-1-2 formation that brought them the vital victory last time out and will more or less keep the same starting XI.

Fernando Martinez will operate in between the sticks for the visitors after shipping in one goal in his last outing. Rodrigo Ely could again be slotted alongside Babic at the heart of Rubi’s defence as they try to keep things solid at the back.

Fernandes will replace the suspended Chumi on the right-flank, whereas Alex Centelles may continue to man the left-back role. Samu Costa will start as the defensive midfielder and will have the support of Lucas Robertone, Arnau Puigmal Martinez, and Gonzalo Melero, who make up Almeria’s attacking midfield, as they try to engineer some clear-cut chances to get something out of this encounter.

Up front, Leo Baptistao, and Luis Suarez have scored just five goals between them all season long, one less than the injured Bilal Toure, whose injury recovery could be the key to Almeria’s survival.

Probable Lineup (4-1-3-2): Fernando; Fernandes, Ely, Babic, Centelles; Costa; Martinez, Melero, Robertone; Baptistao, Suarez

Key Stats

  • Atletico Madrid are on a stellar run of five straight league victories, and a 14-game unbeaten run.
  • Almeria are the only side in La Liga yet to pick up an away victory this season.
  • Diego Simeone’s side have kept three clean sheets in their last four home games.
  • Atletico Madrid have a near-perfect head-to-head record against Almeria in the past nine years, except for a single draw.
  • Atletico Madrid are on a hot streak at home, having scored ten goals from their past three outings. And these three fixtures were against quality opponents in Real Betis, Sevilla, and Valencia.

Player to Watch

Antoine Griezmann

Embed from Getty Images

Antoine Griezmann excelled at the World Cup as France’s all-action man in the midfield to help the 2018 champions reach a second straight final. Since falling short against Argentina in Qatar, Griezmann has continued to play his best football in several years for Atletico Madrid, who are now reaping the benefits of the cut-price fee they paid Barcelona to re-sign him.

His La Liga-leading nine assists, combined with his nine goals, have helped Atletico quietly become the league’s hottest team over the past two months. Atletico’s improved play has a lot to do with Griezmann’s availability. And Diego Simeone will be hoping his playmaker maintains his fine form in the latter stages of the season.


Atletico Madrid 2-0 Almeria

Atletico Madrid could leapfrog Real Madrid into second place with another win this week. They are easily the best team in the Spanish top flight based on recent form. With Antoine Griezmann still in fine form, Atletico will relish their chances of catching up to their neighbours, especially if Real Madrid remain interested in their Champions League endeavours.

Diego Simeone’s side has been impressive in their home games this season. The visitors do not have the kind of personnel or game plan to frustrate Atleti in the way some bottom-half teams can. So we are expecting the Colchoneros to triumph here. The Hard Tackle predicts a 2-0 win for Simeone and his charges.

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