Atletico Madrid are faced with a tough test in their bid to keep the top spot in La Liga standings as they travel to Balaidos for a top-half derby match of round 19 in the Spanish top tier.
Can Celta bounce back?
High-flying Os Celticos have been dealt a huge blow as they suffered back-to-back league defeats to Athletic Bilbao and Malaga at the end of 2015 and at the beginning of 2016, before going to record a 3-0 Copa del Rey win over Cadiz away. With their sights firmly set on grabbing the European spot and taking part in next year’s edition of the UEFA Champions League, Celta lock horns with the leaders of the championship Atletico Madrid. The following derby match will be a stern test to team’s ambitions as the possible win could get Celta close to the fourth place in the standings. Os Celticos are currently seated in fifth, five points adrift of Villarreal in fourth and with a three-point cushion in front of sixth-placed Athletic Bilbao. The game against Atletico Madrid is still under a doubt due to the heavy rain which flooded Los Balaidos’ surrounding area, but also some of the parts of the stadium itself. Weather forecasts are not promising and there is a huge amount of uncertainty surrounding the fixture.
If the game goes ahead, the hosts will be without their key man Nolito, who is unlikely to recover in time to face Atletico Madrid. Fontas is also down with a knock, while Ruben Blanco is forced to sit out through suspension.
Atletico going from strength to strength
Diego Simeone’s resilient side have once again showed class and quality to keep up the pace on top of the standings with Barcelona and Real Madrid. Rojiblancos are currently occupying the top spot, two point clear of second-placed Barcelona, who have a game in hand due to their FIFA Club World Cup responsibilities last year. Nevertheless, Atletico Madrid have been fighting tooth and nail to remain in frame for the title and there is no doubt they will be fighting hard to the very end. The visitors are coming off from a 1-1 Copa del Rey draw against Rayo Valeccano, which followed back-to-back league triumphs over Levante and Rayo Vallecano. A complicated 2-0 win at Vallecas forced the leaders to dig deep in the next game in order to claim the maximum three points at Vicente Calderon as Thomas Teye’s late goal ensured a much needed win. Diego Simeone once again has a strong and a competitive squad at his disposal, a squad that will give 100% to emerge victorious from their trip to Vigo.
Tiago is recovering from a broken leg and will miss the Sunday’s game, while there are no other major injury concerns for Atletico Madrid, who rested 10 players for Copa del Rey draw against Rayo.
Celta are on a bit of a downslide having lost their last two La Liga matches. The hosts failed to get on the scoresheet in both occasions and it will be very difficult for them to halt the high-flying Atleti.
Top pick: Away win 1.9 (10/11) @Betfair
Alternative pick 1: Both teams to score – No 1.7 (7/10) @BetVictor
Alternative pick 2: Under 2.5 goals 1.57 (4/7) @Bet365