Vicente Calderon, Madrid
14th December 2014, 19:00 CET
Atletico Madrid welcome high flying Villarreal on Sunday and coach Diego Simeone will be hoping for his players to maintain the pressure on Real Madrid and FC Barcelona by winning all three points against the Yellow Submarine.
Atletico Madrid secured a top spot in group A of the Champions League with 0-0 draw against Italian champions Juventus in the midweek and now, Rojiblancos welcome Villarreal to the Vicente Calderon on Sunday as action resumes in La Liga.
Villarreal will also be confident of facing the current Spanish champions in their own backyard as they have won four straight games and are unbeaten in their last seven encounters in all competitions.
Team News and Tactics
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone said last week that his first objective for this season is to maintain the lead over Sevilla and Valencia. However, in spite of few early hiccups, Atletico Madrid have been successful in maintaining the pressure on FC Barcelona and Real Madrid. And now that European duties completed for 2014, Diego Simeone will not accept anything but a win from his players against in-form Villarreal.
After the sale of some of the key members of last season’s title winning squad, it has appeared on many occasions of this campaign that Atletico Madrid players have struggled to maintain the same intensity upon returning to La Liga action after an intense encounter in Europe.
Atletico Madrid have failed to win their La Liga match on three occasions when they have played in the UEFA Champions League in the midweek and coach Diego Simeone would be eager to improve on to that record when they host Villarreal, who are also back after a midweek UEFA Europa League game, at Vicente Calderon.
Atletico Madrid splashed more than 27 million euros for the signature of Antoine Griezman in the summer but the Frenchman has become more like a peripheral figure for coach Diego Simeone but he could get the playing opportunity against Villareal after failing to get any playing time against Juventus.
Young defender Jimenez has impressed everybody with his matured displays in the absence of Miranda for Atletico Madrid and the youngster will maintain his place in the heart of defence, along with Diego Godin, against Villareal.
The midfield trio of Mario, Gabi and Koke performed extremely well against Juventus and Diego Simeone will not make any changes in his settled formation for this game.
Diego Simeone baffled everyone with his tactics for his attackers in a game against Juventus as he deployed Arda Turan behind Mario Mandzukic as a withdrawn striker. However, this experiment failed to produce expected results and Simeone was forced to play Turan on left flank in the second half.
Arda Turan has regularly played on the right flank for Atletico Madrid this season and he has formed an excellent understanding with Juanfran. Diego Simeone will most probably ask Arda Turan to return to his old position for this extremely important clash against Villarreal.
Although they are successful in maintaining the continuous pressure over Barca and Real, Atletico Madrid have struggled badly to score through open game this season as they remain over dependent on their ability to materialize on corners and free-kicks.
Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone was full of praise for Villarreal ahead of Sunday’s clash. Simeone said: “I don’t know which players will start the game, but their players are quite similar and play in the same style. That have a trainer that works well with them and they play some of the best football around. From the midfield to the attack they’re really strong. Bruno has great vision, Trigueros is a good player and Costa and Mario are good forwards. Vietto is a lad we saw grow in Argentina and that pleases us. He has a lot of football at his feet.”
Predicted Starting Lineup (4-3-3): Moya; Juanfran, Godin, Gimenez, Siqueira; Mario, Gabi, Koke; Turan, Mandzukic, Garcia
Like Atletico Madrid, Villarreal go into this contest on the back of European duties, having defeated Apollon Limassol by 2-0, in Cyprus on Thursday.
Villarreal are in a good run of form at the moment as they are on a winning streak of four games while they are also on unbeaten run of seven games. And unlike Atletico Madrid, Marcelino Garcia Toral’s men have performed much better than Rojiblancos after featuring in Europe and returning to La Liga. But going into this encounter, Atletico Madrid have got rest of two more days than the Yellow Submarine.
Villarreal coach Marcelino Garcia Toral has done excellent work with this team as the Yellow Submarine have consistently produced a fine display of free flowing football this season.
Their recent form have helped Villarreal to reach 6th spot in La Liga table and Marcelino Garcia Toral would be hoping for another positive display against mighty Atletico Madrid, which is not going to be easy.
Villareal have conceded 14 goals from 14 games of La Liga so far and coach Marcelino will ask for a better performance this time by his defenders Mario, Gabriel, Ruiz and Costa.
The midfield combination of Bruno, Trigueros, Dos Santos, Cheryshev and Vietto have played some spectacular football this season and Marcelino is not expected to make any change in his settled formation for this game against Atletico Madrid either.
Striker Uche is arguably the best player of Villarreal this season as he has scored four goals for the Yellow Submarine this term and is now considered a key player for Marcelino Garcia Toral’s team.
Predicted Starting Lineup (4-2-3-1): Asenjo; Mario. Gabriel, Ruiz, Costa; Bruno, Trigueros; Dos Santos, Cheryshev, Vietto; Uche
Player To Watch Out For
Spain international Koke has performed extremely well for Atletico Madrid this season as he continues to anchor the midfield of Rojiblancos. Koke has helped Atletico Madrid to impose themselves on the opposition with his grinding displays and he will have to play an important role in this game if they want to have any chance of securing all three points against in-form Villarreal.
Atletico Madrid 2-2 Villarreal
Villarreal have regularly displayed their ability to get positive results by playing attractive football and they are expected to give Atletico Madrid a run for their money at Vicente Calderon on Sunday.
Blast From The Past