Atletico Madrid will be aiming to seal a third-placed finish when they play their final game of the 2019/20 La Liga campaign against Real Sociedad on Sunday.
Atletico Madrid will be keen on ending their 2019/20 La Liga campaign on a positive note as they host Real Sociedad at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday.
The Spanish giants are coming into this game on the back of two consecutive wins over Real Betis and Getafe. As a result, they now have the chance to seal their place in the third position of the league table with a win over Sociedad.
Atleti are currently leading fourth-placed Sevilla by just two points with a superior goal difference of +5. That means even a draw could be enough unless Sevilla manage to win their game against Valencia with a six-goal margin.
As for Real Sociedad, things are much more exciting. They are currently sixth in the league table, just two points behind fifth-placed Villarreal, who play Eibar this weekend. La Real, therefore, will be hoping for the other fixture to swing in their favour while they must secure a victory over Atletico Madrid to finish fifth in the standings.
And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of this high-stakes final day encounter in La Liga this weekend.
Tactics & Team News
We could expect Diego Simeone to make some changes following a gruelling restart period that saw his players play two matches a week.
Fortunately for him, he has no fresh injury concerns heading into this game. On the contrary, Joao Felix is hoping for a return to the pitch, having already trained with the team. However, Simeone will miss out on the services of Saul Niguel and Mario Hermoso due to suspensions while Sime Vrsaljko is the only player out injured.
Stefan Savic is tipped for a return at centre-back, where he could partner Jose Gimenez. Santiago Arias, meanwhile, could return to the bench, paving the way for Kieran Trippier to start at right-back.
There could be rotation on the opposite flank as well, with Renan Lodi replacing Manu Sanchez, although Jan Oblak is pretty much a guaranteed starter in between the sticks.
In midfield, Saul’s absence should pave the way for Thomas Partey to build the double-pivot alongside Marcos Llorente, with Koke and Angel Correa operating as wide players.
And finally, in the attack, Simeone could recall Alvaro Morata back into the starting lineup. The ex-Chelsea striker should start alongside Diego Costa as Atletico Madrid look to breach the Real Sociedad defence.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Oblak; Trippier, Savic, Gimenez, Lodi; Correa, Thomas, Llorente, Koke; Morata, Costa
Real Sociedad boss Imanol Alguacil has a bunch of star players out injured including Ander Guevara, Asier Illarramendi, Adnan Januzaj and Jon Bautista. Aritz Elustondo is also among the players sidelined and will not be available for this fixture.
Given the importance of this clash, coach Imanol Alguacil is most likely to opt for the strongest possible eleven but could switch to a back-four in order to mirror Atletico’s classic 4-4-2.
That means Diego Llorente and Robin Le Normand could form the central defensive unit while Nacho Monreal could replace Aihen Munoz at left-back, as the experienced Spaniard is more suited to a back-four. Joseba Zaldua might just start over Andoni Gorosabel at right-back, while Miguel Angel Moya is a guaranteed starter in goal.
Mikel Merino has done well in midfield in the absence of Illaramendi and is more than expected to form the double-pivot alongside Igor Zubeldia. They could receive additional support from Mikel Oyarzabal.
The youngster, however, will primarily be tasked with the responsibility of providing the creative essence in the final third alongside Martin Odegaard and Portu, in order to feed Willian Jose.
Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Moya; Zaldua, Llorente, Le Normand, Monreal; Zubeldia, Merino; Oyarzabal, Odegaard, Portu; Willian Jose
- The two clubs have faced each other 135 times in the Spanish top-flight, in which Atlético boast a 50% win ratio. Real Sociedad have 41 wins, while 27 games have ended in a stalemate.
- La Real inflicted a 2-0 loss on Atlético Madrid in the reverse fixture earlier this season. They have not completed a league double over their opponents since the 2002-03 campaign.
- Atletico have won their last 6 home matches against Real Sociedad in all competitions.
- Atletico have scored at least 2 goals in 5 of their last 6 home matches against Real Sociedad in all competitions.
- Atletico have kept a clean sheet in 5 of their last 6 home matches against Real Sociedad in all competitions.
Player to Watch
After initially making a slow start to his career at Atletico Madrid, Llorente is certainly making an impression in Simeone’s setup, having notably become a key member of the first-team since the restart. It was evident in his performance against Getafe in the last game.
Llorente’s versatility, tenacity and the determination to soldier on for his team make him a tailor-made fit for Simeone’s footballing philosophy. And although the ex-Real Madrid star was a doubt heading into this game, it has been confirmed that his substation was only taken as a precaution.
Llorente, therefore, will be looking to continue his excellent run of form and cap the season off with a strong showing against Real Sociedad.
Atletico Madrid 2-1 Real Sociedad
Real Sociedad are fighting to preserve their top-six finish, especially with Getafe breathing down their neck. We can thus expect Alguacil’s men to take a cautious approach and that could be their wrongdoing, up against an Atletico Madrid attack that has looked fairly decent, of late. We expect the home sides to seal a narrow 2-1 win in this one.