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Villarreal host Atletico Madrid: PREVIEW

In the past few years this has been a fascinating, very tight fixture. No reason to anticipate that changes this year, though both teams are looking for form.

Alexandre Pato—will we see him in action Monday?
Maria José Segovia

Villarreal host Atletico Madrid at El Madrigal on a Monday evening. Win and the Yellow Submarine overtakes Atleti and moves into fourth place, lose and suddenly they’re three points out of fifth, five points out of fourth, and moving in the wrong direction—down the table.

Atleti: Simeone has named 19 players for the visit to El Madrigal. Felipe Luis, Augusto, Cerci and Moreira are not on the list.

Goalkeepers: Oblak and Moyá.

Defenders: Godín, Giménez, Savic, Vrsaljko, Lucas and Juanfran.

Midfielders: Thomas, Koke, Saúl, Carrasco, Gabi, Caio and Gaitán.

Forwards: Griezmann, Fernando Torres, Correa and Gameiro.

Villarreal: The squad has not been announced, but we know Soldado and Castillejo are out, and we suspect N’Diaye and Musacchio are as well. Alvaro Gonzalez is supposedly available, though I would not be surprised to see a makeshift centerback pairing of Mario Gaspar and Victor Ruiz, with Rukavina filling in at right back.

We probably get Bakambu and Sansone, Soriano, Bruno, Trig and J dos up front, though maybe Pato will have impressed enough to get a start ahead of Bakambu, who is really struggling at the moment.

History: Villarreal has a good record against Atleti at home, 7-4-3, though we’re just 1-1-2 since Simeone took over. In recent years the matches have all been very close; the last time there were 2 goals in the match was 2013 (a 1-1 draw) and the last time one team scored two or more goals? Back in 2011, when we lost 3-0 at the Calderón.

Maybe the teams have been making up for the goalfests of the 2000s—a 4-4 draw in 2008, a 4-3 Villarreal win the year before that.

Form: You’d think, the two clubs in the top six of the table, it would be pretty good, but both teams have struggled at times. Atleti have lost to three of the four teams above them, by scores of 1-0, 2-0 and 3-0, drawing only at the Camp Nou against Barca, 1-1.

Villarreal have struggled against inferior opposition of late, drawing at Leganes and losing at home to Alaves.

Prediction: I’ll go for 1-1 here. Not sure either squad is playing consistently well enough to keep the other one of the scoresheet for 90 minutes.

Endavant Villarreal!!