Atletico Madrid take on this season’s surprise package Alaves in La Liga at the Wanda Metropolitano in Saturday’s early kick off.
With league leaders Barcelona not in action until Saturday evening, a win for Atletico would see them go level on points with Ernesto Valverde’s side.
Alaves meanwhile will be eager to cause further upset at the top of the table in a campaign that has seen the defeat Real Madrid and draw with high-flying Sevilla.
Here’s everything you need to know ahead of Saturday’s clash:
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Saturday 8th December|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||12:00|
|Where Is it Played?||Wanda Metropolitano Stadium|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Eleven Sports|
Diego Simeone’s defensive options remain thin on the ground with first choice centre-back pairing Diego Jimenez and Diego Godin still absent with muscle injuries.
Filipe Luis is unlikely to make a return on Saturday though could be in contention for a starting berth next weekend as he regains fitness, while Santiago Arias will continue to deputise at right-back for the experienced Juanfran who again misses out with a calf injury.
Diego Costa will be a big miss up front, with the fiery forward sidelined after having surgery on his foot in the week.
The visitors travel to the Spanish capital with a near fully fit squad, with centre-back Rodrigo Ely still recovering from a long-term knee injury sustained back in October.
|Atletico Madrid||Oblak; Arias, Moya, Hernandez, Niguez; Koke, Thomas, Rodrigo, Lemar, Griezmann, Correa.|
|Alaves||Pacheco; Aguirregabiria, Laguardia, Ximo Navarro, Duarte; Pina; Gomez, Mubarak, Garcia Sanchez, Jony; Calleri|
Head to Head Record
In the previous 16 top-flight meetings between the two sides, Atleti just about edge it, having won on seven occasions. Alaves, however, have emerged victorious five times and will fancy their chances of adding another victory to that tally on Saturday.
A solitary goal has been the biggest winning margin in the club’s last seven meetings. Fans can certainly expect a cagey affair this weekend.
Diego Simeone’s side have been impressive but not spectacular this season. Defensive solidity has always been emphasised under the Argentine and again his side boast the best defensive record in the league. In attack, however, Atleti have struggled, scoring just 18 times this term.
Atletico have become this season’s draw specialists, struggling to find a winner on seven occasions this term. For all their troubles offensively, Atleti are still in the hunt for the title and will be there or thereabouts come the end of the season.
Alaves, under the guidance of Abelardo Fernández, have impressed from the outset this term and with four wins and a draw in their last seven outings, have kept pace with La Liga’s top sides. Last week’s draw with Sevilla, demonstrated their genuine top-four credentials.
Here’s how both side’s have got on in their last five matches:
|Atletico Madrid 4-0 Sant Andreu (05/12)||Girona 2-1 Alaves (05/12)|
|Girona 1-1 Atletico Madrid (02/12)||Alaves 1-1 Sevilla (02/12)|
|Atletico Madrid 2-0 Monaco (28/11)||Leganes 1-0 Alaves (23/11)|
|Atletico Madrid 1-1 Barcelona (24/11)||Alaves 2-1 Huesca (11/11)|
|Atletico Madrid 3-2 Athletic Bilbao (10/11)||Eibar 1-2 Alaves (04/11)|
A very hard one to call, history and recent form suggest a close encounter is likely on Saturday. With Barcelona and Sevilla in action later that day, both sides will want maximum points to put pressure on those at the top of the table.
Atleti fans will expect a win, especially at home, though Alaves have shown both at home and away this term that they are real top four contenders, and will provide a stern test of a makeshift Atletico defence.
Prediction Atletico Madrid 1-1 Alaves