Atletico Madrid vs Deportivo Preview: Classic Encounter, Key Battle, Team News & More - Sports Illustrated

Atletico Madrid will be hoping to put their mid-season blip behind them when they return to La Liga action this weekend against relegation fodder Deportivo La Coruna. 

Two defeats in their last three has seen Diego Simeone's side's title chances all but dissolve, with runaway league leaders Barcelona now 11 points ahead. 

However, Atleti's recent slip-ups have also allowed bitter city rivals Real Madrid to reduce their deficit to second place to a point, and with the two set to collide next weekend, the Wanda Metropolitano outfit will not want to make any further costly mistakes. 

Depor, meanwhile, make the 600km trip from Spain's northwestern coastline having not secured maximum points since December, seven points adrift from safety, and finding themselves preparing for next season in the Segund Division. 

So, ahead of what looks like on paper a cut and dried contest, let's take a look at all you need to know. 

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Classic Encounter


Atletico Madrid 2-0 Deportivo La Coruna (November, 2014)

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Atletico's 2-0 win over Depor in November 2014, was indeed not a classic encounter on the pitch, with the Spanish capital side's routine victory via goals from Saul Niguez and Arda Turan the underlying story of the day. 

The headlines were instead marred by clashes outside Atleti's former ground, the Vicente Calderon Stadium, from which a 43-year-old visiting supporter lost his life after being fished out of the freezing Manzanares river. 

The Depor fan suffered cardiac arrest, hypothermia and head injuries, which were resulting from the violent scenes; actions which later Atletico president Enrique Cerezo claimed were completed by "radical groups". 

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(Image translation: "Here was murdered Francisco J. Romero. No forgetting no forgiving!")

There were attempts to postpone the fixture after the news surrounding the loss of life had surfaced; however, reports claimed that LFP were unable to do so, due to time constraints.

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Key Battle

Diego Consta vs Raul Albentosa


Despite Diego Costa's impressive impact on his return to life at Atletico Madrid in January, in which he has netted five goals in nine games as well as provided one assist, the Spain international's influence has somewhat deteriorated since. 

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Scoring just once in his last five outings, the 29-year-old will be keen to rediscover his form again when he faces Depor, who have, on average this term, conceded over two goals per game; the worst defensive statistics in LaLiga. 

Within that usual back four sits Raul Albentosa, who, following the sacking of manager Cristobal Parralo - who was only appointed in October 2017 - and the hiring of Clarence Seedorf in January, has enjoyed a much more frequent spot in Branquiazuis' starting XI. 

However, with the former Derby County man yet to feature in a winning side this season, the omens do not look good for Depor. 

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Team News  

Atleti boss Diego Simeone will be without winger Victor Vitolo for the visit of the relegation strugglers, with the Spain international set to serve his one-match ban after being sent off in the defeat to Villarreal last time out. 

Right back Juanfran is also set to miss out after struggling with a hamstring problem, although he will be monitored throughout the remainder of the weekend and Filipe Luis remains sidelined.

The visitors, meanwhile, are missing Florin Andone (muscle), Luisinho (muscle) through injury and Fernando Navarro with suspension.

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Prediction

Although Atleti are currently enduring arguably their worst spell of the season, Depor's visit should produce nothing but a maximum points return for Simeone's men. 

Having not won in Madrid against this weekend's opponents in the league since 1999, or at all since December, it is hard to see how Branquiazuis will find enough to overcome the star-studded Champions League chasers.

Score Prediction: Atletico Madrid 2-0 Deportivo La Coruna