Atletico Madrid will look to return to winning ways, when they go head to head against Real Sociedad at the Wanda Metropolitano on Saturday night.
After getting mauled at the hands of Borussia Dortmund in the UEFA Champions League earlier this week, Atletico Madrid will aim to bounce back strongly against Real Sociedad in La Liga on Saturday.
Diego Simeone’s men, who have the reputation of boasting one of the meanest defences in Europe, were thrashed 4-0 by Dortmund earlier this week. The defeat was preceded by a 1-1 draw against Villarreal in the league, meaning Los Rojiblancos have failed to win twice in a row now and will be aiming to get back on track this weekend.
Atletico Madrid currently sit fifth on the La Liga table, having accumulated 16 points from their nine matches so far. With just two points separating them from leaders Barcelona, a win on Saturday would give them a chance to jump above the Catalans in the standings, ahead of Sunday’s El Clasico.
Real Sociedad find themselves ninth on the table, with 12 points from their nine matches. Last time out, Asier Garitano’s men were held to a goalless draw at home by Girona. With just two victories in their last six matches, La Real will have their task cut out at the Wanda Metropolitano, if they are to come away with all three points.
Team News & Tactics
Experienced defender Juanfran misses out for Los Colchoneros due to a suspension, while defensive mainstay Jose Maria Gimenez is a doubt for the game with a thigh injury. But, no changes are expected to the 4-4-2 system that Simeone sets his team up in, for the weekend encounter.
Jan Oblak, widely regarded as one of the finest goalkeepers in the business, will continue between the sticks for the home team. Juanfran’s suspension means summer signing Santiago Arias gets the nod at right-back, while Filipe Luis is expected to continue on the opposite side. Captain Diego Godin will pair up with World Cup winner Lucas Hernandez at the heart of the Atletico Madrid backline.
Summer signing Rodri, who did not start in the Champions League fixture, will be tasked with providing protection to Atleti’s back four, while fellow Spanish international Saul Niguez will occupy the second midfield slot and look to impact the game in the attacking half of the pitch.
Thomas Lemar and Koke are likely to line up on the left and right flanks for Simeone’s side, with Diego Costa and Antoine Griezmann once again expected to be the preferred options in attack, ahead of Nikola Kalinic and Angel Correa.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Arias, Godin, Hernandez, Luis; Koke, Rodri, Saul, Lemar; Costa, Griezmann
Joseba Zaldua and Martin Melqueranz remain sidelined for Asier Garitano’s side, while Mikel Merino is also not ready to return to action. Adnan Januzaj is closing in on a return, but is unlikely to be risked for the weekend trip to Wanda Metropolitano, whereas Diego Llorente and Jon Guridi continue to remain absent.
Real Sociedad will set up in the 4-2-3-1 formation against Atletico and are likely to play on the counter attack. In goal, former Atletico Madrid man Miguel Angel Moya is expected to start ahead of Geronimo Rulli. Andoni Gorosabel will occupy the right-back slot, while on-loan Real Madrid man Theo Hernandez will start on the opposite flank against his former club.
Raul Navas and Aritz Elustondo will start at the heart of the defence and look to combat the threat posed by the Atletico strikers. They will need plenty of protection from club captain and former Real Madrid midfielder Asier Illarramendi, who will take up one of the pivot positions for the visitors, with 21-year-old Igor Zubeldia expected to partner him.
Luca Sangalli, who has a goal and two assists to his name this term, is likely to be preferred over Sandro Ramirez on the right flank, with talented youngster Mikel Oyarzabal expected to start on the opposite flank. Ruben Pardo will slot in as the No. 10 for La Real, with Willian Jose in line to start as the lone striker ahead of Jon Bautista.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Moya; Gorosabel, Navas, Elustondo, Hernandez; Zubeldia, Illarramendi; Sangalli, Pardo, Oyarzabal; Willian Jose
- Atletico Madrid haven’t tasted defeat in 24 of their last 25 home matches in the La Liga.
- Real Sociedad have scored in each of their away league games this term, and their nine goals on the road make them the second-highest scoring away team in the Spanish top-flight.
- Los Rojiblancos have won all of their last 5 home matches against Real Sociedad across all competitions.
- Diego Simeone’s side have kept a clean sheet in 11 of their last 14 home matches in the La Liga. However, they have managed just four shut-outs in their last 10 matches in all competitions.
- Antoine Griezmann has scored four goals in his last seven games against his former club Real Sociedad.
Player to Watch
It has been a very slow start to the 2018-19 campaign for the mercurial Spanish striker. Costa, so far in his seven La Liga appearances, has failed to find the back of the net even once, while his last goal for Atletico Madrid came over a month ago in their 2-1 win over AS Monaco in the UEFA Champions League.
Having missed the last two league encounters due to a hamstring injury, the 30-year-old returned to the starting XI against Borussia Dortmund earlier this week, but failed to make much of an impact and cut a frustrated figure on the field. If Atletico are to bounce back strongly, Costa will need to start firing on all cylinders and he will be aiming to get off the mark in the league on Saturday.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Real Sociedad
It has been a disappointing last week for Los Colchoneros to say the least. After their unconvincing performance in the 1-1 draw against Villarreal, they were uncharacteristically vulnerable at the back against Dortmund, shipping in four goals. And, manager Diego Simeone will demand a strong reaction from his wards after the manner of their defeat in the midweek.
Real Sociedad have scored in all of their away games in La Liga this term and have won their previous two fixtures on the road. However, they continue to be marred with inconsistency in their performances, while injuries have hampered them to some extent as well.
A tightly-contested affair is on the cards at the Wanda Metropolitano this weekend and we at The Hard Tackle, expect the hosts to return to winning ways with a narrow victory.