Atletico Madrid head to the Basque country to face Deportivo Alaves on Saturday evening with a much needed three points at stake.
Atletico are now 10 points behind league leaders Barcelona following their 2-0 defeat to Athletic Bilbao before the international break.
Alaves are enjoying a fantastic season sitting fifth in La Liga table and are currently on a run of six games without defeat. Babazorros should provide Atletico a tough task to overcome in what could be an enticing fixture.
Here is 90min’s preview of Saturday’s encounter at the Mendizorrotza.
Where to Watch
|When Is Kick Off?||Saturday 30 March|
|What Time Is Kick Off?||19:45 (BST)|
|Where Is it Played?||Mendizorrotza|
|TV Channel/Live Stream?||Eleven Sports 1|
The hosts will be without Chilean centre back Guillermo Maripán as he serves a one-match suspension. Both Ruben Duarte and Burgui will remain on the sidelines after picking up injuries earlier this month.
Diego Simeone continues to be short in defensive areas for Saturday’s game. Los Rojiblancos will be without Filipe Luis, Stefan Savic and Santiago Arias for the trip to Vitoria-Gasteiz. Spanish winger Vitolo is recovering from a groin injury and will also miss out while Rodrigo will serve one-match suspension.
Lucas Hernandez who will move on to Bayern Munich at the end of the season after completing a €80m move, and will miss out on Saturday. The defender will potentially be out until the end of the season after recently receiving knee surgery.
|Deportivo Alaves||Pacheco; Vigaray, Navarro, Laguardia, Aguirregabiria; Pina, Brasanac, Inui, Jony; Baston, Calleri.|
|Atletico Madrid||Oblak; Juanfran, Godin, Gimenez, Saul; Partey, Correa, Koke, Lemar; Morata, Griezmann.|
Head to Head Record
History may favour an Atletico Madrid win on Saturday. Alaves have not beaten Atleti since the 2002/03 season - a season that in which they were relegated - when they achieved the double over Los Rojiblancos.
Atletico Madrid ran out comfortable winners in the reverse fixture earlier this campaign. Goals from Nikola Kalinic, Antoine Griezmann and Rodrigo secured a 3-0 victory at the Wanda Metropolitano in December.
Atletico had been in great league form before the defeat to Bilbao last time out. Los Rojiblancos had won four games on the bounce after their Madrid derby defeat in February.
They will head into Saturday’s game on the back of two defeats. Adding to the Bilbao defeat, Atletico were also beaten 3-0 by Juventus in the Champions League round of 16 which led to their exit from the competition.
The home side though head into this one in inspiring form. Abelardo Fernández’s side are unbeaten in their previous six La Liga fixtures with three wins and three draws. Alaves have only suffered one defeat at home this season and will fancies their chances when Simeone’s side visit the Mendizorrotza.
Here is how both teams have fared in their previous five fixtures.
|Deportivo Alaves||Atletico Madrid|
|Huesca 1-3 Alaves (16/3)||Bilbao 2-0 Atletico (16/3)|
|Alaves 1-1 Eibar (9/3)||Juventus 3-0 Atletico (12/3)|
|Villarreal 1-2 Alaves (2/3)||Atletico 1-0 Leganes (9/3)|
|Celta de Vigo 0-0 Alaves (23/2)||Real Sociedad 0-2 Atletico (3/3)|
|Real Betis 1-1 Alaves (17/2)||Atletico 2-0 Villarreal (24/2)|
Atletico need to pick up all three points on Saturday to keep up with Barcelona and are a side that are very capable of doing so. Simeone will hope Alvaro Morata will build on the two goals he scored for Spain over the international break and start firing in the goals for his club side. Atletico’s worry will be lack of depth in defensive areas.
Alaves will provide a tough encounter for Los Rojiblancos but the importance of gaining three points should spur on Atletico to pick up a win.
Prediction: Deportivo Alaves 1-2 Atletico Madrid