Villarreal travel to Atletico Madrid’s new stadium to take on Atletico Madrid. This should be a tight matchup—Atleti are undefeated, yes, but have scored only 14 goals in nine matches, and 5 of those came in the first match of the season at Las Palmas.
Atleti: Koke and Carrasco are out; our sister blog, Into the Calderon, has a lot of information on the sort of meh period Atleti is going through right now, but basically they aren’t scoring goals. However, they aren’t allowing many either; Barcelona are the only team to score at the Wanda Metropolitano in the league this season. (Malaga, 1-0; Sevilla, 2-0; Barca, 1-1; like us, they played their first two matches on the road).
Correa, Griezmann, and Gamiero have six goals between them, and Fernando Torres (still there) and Luciano Vietto (same) have none between them. Vietto in particular has struggled to get untracked this season.
Villarreal: Our team call was pretty much as you would expect, though it’s worth noting Enes Unal was not included, and Javi Calleja confirmed Levante have asked for him on loan. (Due to various injuries to forwards, Levante asked for and received special permission to sign a striker before January).
Bruno Soriano resumed practicing today, so though he’s not in the call for this match, he could be soon. Ramiro Guerra is the only B-teamer included, and that’s mostly to make up the numbers in midfield.
Keepers: Barbosa, Cantero.
Defenders: Mario Gaspar, Rukavina, Jaume Costa, Álvaro, Víctor Ruiz, Bonera.
Midfielders: Trigueros, Rodrigo, Soriano, Samu Castillejo, Fornals, Cheryshev, Ramiro Guerra.
Strikers: Bacca, Bakambu, Sansone.
After the—ahem—-experimental lineup in Ponteferrada, expect us to go with strength. Barbosa; Mario-Alvaro-Ruiz-Jaume Costa; Trigueros, Rodrigo, Samu, Fornals; Bakambu and Bacca.
Maybe Sansone gets in ahead of Bacca.
All-time record: Even overall (12-71-11, 43 goals scored, 41 allowed) but both clubs have done markedly better at home. We’re only 4-3-8 against Atleti, of course all that was at the Calderón. Atleti’s last win at home was back in April 2014, 1-0; believe it or not, we had both Alexsandar Pantic and Juan Roman in our starting lineup that day. (Pantic is now with Dynamo Kyiv; I have no idea where Juan Roman is now).
Last season we won this 1-0, Roberto Soriano scoring late on.
This is the first match we’ve played under Calleja where we’re going against a team that’s above us in the table, by the way.
Prediction: On the face of it, this should be a 0-0 draw (as our sister blog predicted) or, maybe 1-1. I’ll go with that, but I also worry that Atleti is going to break out of their funk sooner or later. Hopefully not this match.