Atletico Madrid will be desperate for a morale-boosting victory when they host Real Valladolid having now suffered three successive defeats in all competitions. Their opponents may be unbeaten in last three La Liga fixtures, but they still remain three points adrift of safety, meaning they have got to try and take advantage of Atletico’s poor run of form.
A response is needed
Just two weeks ago, Atletico Madrid sat three points clear at the La Liga summit and getting ready for the first leg of the Coppa del Rey semi-finals, but a lot has changed since. The 5-0 aggregate defeat to Real Madrid saw them crash out of the cup, whereas 2-0 setback against Almeria allowed their title rivals to catch them at the top. And with the Valladolid game coming just four days ahead of the Champions League clash against AC Milan, it is perfectly clear Diego Simeone’s men have got to try and record a big win or what looked like a very promising season could turn into an utter disappointment. Atletico Madrid were unfortunate to have seven players pick up injuries in last seven matches, with young Manquillo the latest casualty. The good news is that important attacker David Villa has resumed full training and his return could help Diego Costa rediscover his scoring boots. Given the circumstances, los Colchoneros can be trusted to attack from the off, with 10-2-0 home record giving them reason for optimism ahead of what could prove to be a very important match for the hosts.
David Villa is back to the side, but Filipe Luis, Thibaut Courtois, Javier Manquillo and Tiago Mendes are out injured. Daniel Aranzubia has had his red card overturned.
Top scorer Javi Guerra returns
Real Valladolid largely impressed on their return to La Liga, having escaped the relegation tussle altogether last term, but they now find themselves deep in the relegation zone. Pucela haven’t quite managed to prove their worth this season, having largely struggled on the road, while not taking enough points on home soil. Their advantage is having one of league’s top scorer Javi Guerra in their ranks, who is proving to be a real danger for oppositions defenders, having already scored 11 goals. After taking just one point from five league games, Valladolid have shown some improvement of late, defeating high-flying Villarreal before sharing spoils with Getafe and Elche, and they will be confident going into the clash at Vicente Calderon. And while Pucela obviously lack the quality to match their more illustrious opponents, their counter-attacking style of play is likely to produce results, especially with Javi Guerra returning to the side from suspension. If nothing else works, talented Humberto Osorio, who scored a brace against Elche, will be introduced in the second half.
Oscar Gonzalez and Jeffren Suarez miss out through injury, while Jesus Rueda is suspended having picked up fifth yellow card of the campaign.
Atletico Madrid are well aware another setback could seriously hinder their progress and they will, therefore, be looking to go all guns blazing at their opponents. Real Valladolid can be very dangerous on the break, which is why I expect them to score at Vicente Calderon, but that is unlikely to prove enough to avoid defeat.
Top pick: Both teams to score 2.50 (3/2) @ Coral
Alternative pick 1: Home win + both teams to score 3.25 (9/4) @ BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Atletico to score over 1.5 first-half goals 2.80 (9/5) @ Sportingbet