Sunday, 18th January 2015; 1700 CET
Vicente Calderon, Madrid
Third placed Atletico Madrid will have to beat beat Granada at Vicente Calderon tonight if they want to keep the pressure on Real Madrid and FC Barcelona.
Atletico Madrid were comfortably beaten by FC Barcelona in their last game of the La Liga and they now find themselves three points behind Catalans and four points behind table toppers Real Madrid, who has got a game in hand.
14th placed Granada are just three points adrift of relegtion zone and the managerless side will be keen to avoid defeat against the current La Liga champions to keep their hopes of surviving in the top flight alive.
Team news and tactics
Atletico Madrid coach Diego Simeone will face a selection dilemma for tonight’s encounter against Granada as Mario Mandzukic looks recovered from injury while returning striker Fernando Torres has made an excellent start to his second spell at the club by scoring two goals against Real Madrid.
This game against Granada is a must win for Atletico Madrid as they lost their last game to FC Barcelona and are now four points behind leaders Real Madrid. The Rojiblancos did come back strongly after a defeat against Barca as ‘El Nino’ Fernando Torres scored two goals to help Atletico Madrid to held Real Madrid in their own backyard.
The home form of Atletico Madrid has been excellent this season as they have won 7 of their 8 games played at Vicente Calderon and coach Diego Simeone will be expecting another comfortable win against minnows Granada.
Atletico Madrid have no new injury worries for this fixture. Mario Mandzukic is making a good progress but looking at the current form of Fernando Torres, Diego Simeone looks unlikely to give starting birth to the Croatian international. French striker Antoine Griezmann is also in excellent run of form and he could start against Granada, ahead of Arda Turan.
Central defender Gimenez is enjoying a breakthrough season for Atletico Madrid and the youngster will start against Granada, in spite of Miranda’s return from injury.
Another new acquisition of Atletico Madrid this month, Cani trained separately this week to get back to the full fitness. The midfielder is fully fit now and coach Diego Simeone could decide to give him an opportunity in the later part of the game, as a substitute.
Meanwhile, the atmosphere in the dressing room of Atletico Madrid is buoyed by the return of Fernando Torres and Diego Godin confirmed the same in his pre-match press conference.
“Torres brings other things to the table, he offers more pace, but we felt comfortable playing as a team,” Godin told reporters.
“It’s important that our hard work results in goals. We’re happy for Torres. He gave a rounded performance and the goals will give him confidence.
“We all agree that Torres has generated a buzz amongst the fans.”
Predicted Starting XI (4-3-3): Moya; Juanfran, Gimenez, Godin, Siqueira; Gabi, Tiago, Koke; Garcia, Torres, Antoine Griezmann.
Granada have a daunting task ahead of them as they face mighty Atletico Madrid at Vicente Calderon. Granada sacked coach Joaquin Caporras just three days ago and they will go into this match without a full time coach.
Joseba Aguedo has been appointed as the interim manager by Granada and he could not have asked for a more tougher task for his first assignment.
Granada are struggling badly in La Liga as they have secured just two victories in their 18 encounters so far. They are languishing in the 14th place in La Liga and it will be a big miracle if they succeed in adding any points to their tally after tonight’s game against Atletico Madrid.
The Nazaries earned a 1-1 draw against Real Sociedad on last weekend, but a heavy defeat to Sevilla in the Copa del Rey must have lowered their morale ahead of this crucial encounter against the defending champions.
Granada have not received any good news on the injury front as well. Darwin Machis, Ruben Rochina, Jeison Murillo, Luis Martins and Jhon Cordoba remain sidelined and are not available for selection.
Predicted Starting XI (4-4-2): Oier; Nyom, Mainz, Babin, Fran Rico; Marquez, Iturra, Foulquier, Sissoko; El Arabi, Bangoura.
Player To Watch Out For
Not much was expected from Fernando Torres when he signed for Atletico Madrid from AC Milan. But El Nino made a dream start to his second spell at Atletico Madrid by scoring a brace against arch rivals Real Madrid. And tonight’s game against Granada offers Torres a tremendous opportunity to build up a head of steam.
Atletico Madrid 3-0 Granada
Granada are win less since 20th September 2014 and a game against Atletico Madrid offers them a little chance of ending this poor run. Atletico Madrid have looked unbeatable at home this season and Granada are not expected to cause much trouble to Diego Simeone’s defenders tonight.