Villarreal travel to the Calderon to take on Atletico Madrid in a match with European implications.
Atleti are third in the league, three points ahead of Sevilla (and own the tiebreak) with home matches against Villarreal, Eibar and Athletic Club, so they will have a big influence on the Europa League positions. Of course, they are also in the final four of the Champions League with matches against Real Madrid May 2nd and 10th. I would expect them to put out a strong XI for this match, and rotate at Las Palmas on Saturday.
Villarreal would probably be perfectly happy to take a point in this match and get ready for Sporting’s visit on Friday, a match where we need to take three points. Of course, it is never that easy!!
Atleti: They got off to a bit of a slow start this season; maybe their low point was the 3-0 loss to Villarreal in December at what was then still called EL Madrigal. But Cholo Simeone has righted the ship—they are 13-4-1 since, losing only to Barcelona. They do rely a lot on Antoine Griezmann (16 goals), but the emergence of Yannick Carrasco (10 goals) and the outstanding play at the back of Filipe Luis and Diego Godin....this is a strong team, made even stronger by Simeone’s confidence and attitude which he’s transmitted to this team for years now.
Villarreal: Victor Ruiz is injured and not in the side. We’ve called up 20 players for this match:
- Goalkeepers: Andrés Fernández and Barbosa.
- Defenders: Mario, Jaume Costa, José Ángel, Álvaro, Musacchio, Rukavina and Bonera.
- Midfielders: Bruno, Rodrigo, Trigueros, Roberto Soriano, Samu Castillejo and Jonathan dos Santos.
- Strikers: Soldado, Bakambu, Adrián López, Sansone and Santos Borré.
We’ll certainly drop one of those strikers, I’d think, and probably a defender as well to get to 18.
All-time record: Villarreal is 3-3-8 against Atleti in Madrid, with our last win coming in December 2014 courtesy of Luciano Vietto. Last year we drew 0-0 in this fixture, Marcelino putting out a very defensive lineup with five defensive players (Mario, Rukavina, Ruiz, Bailly, Bonera) and Pina in midfield.
Worth pointing out that Rukavina had a good match that day, closing down Filipe Luis effectively, so he might start again this time.
Prediction: Maybe a bit hopeful? 1-1 methinks.