Atletico Madrid will be looking to bounce back to winning ways when they lock horns with Unai Emery’s Villarreal at El Madrigal on Sunday night in La Liga.

Atletico Madrid will be aiming to stretch their lead at the top of the 2020/21 La Liga standings when they face off against Villarreal this weekend in Matchweek 25.

Having looked like the outright favourites to win the La Liga crown this season, Diego Simeone’s men have recently allowed the likes of Barcelona and Real Madrid close the gap to them, having managed to win just one of their last four league games. Indeed, the Catalans, following their 2-0 win over Sevilla on Saturday, are just two points behind Atleti in second place.

Atletico Madrid drew and lost back-to-back league games against Levante which was then followed by a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg encounter earlier this week. And it is imperative that Los Rojiblancos produce a strong reaction and get back to winning ways immediately.

Villarreal, meanwhile, have failed to win their last six La Liga matches since a 4-0 win over Celta Vigo last month. This has left Unai Emery’s side well off of the top four, with the Yellow Submarine currently sitting sixth in the standings, eleven points below Sevilla in fourth and four behind Real Sociedad in fifth.

Villarreal, however, will be buoyed by their 2-1 win over RB Salzburg in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday which has seen them qualify to the Round of 16 stages. And they will be hoping to carry that form to league football when they take on the leaders this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Villarreal

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Villarreal have a number of injury problems heading into the game against Atletico Madrid with the likes of Francis Coquelin, Vicente Iborra, Alberto Moreno all ruled out while Mario Gaspar and Ruben Pena are also doubts for the clash.

The hosts are likely to set up in a 4-4-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo. Raul Albiol and Pau Torres, who is on the radars of Manchester United, ought to form the central defensive pairing tasked with keeping Luis Suarez quiet.

With Gaspar and Pena doubts, Jaume Costa should once again be forced into playing as a makeshift right-back while Pervis Estupinan features out on the left. The duo will look to push forward at every given occasion but will need to be wary of leaving spaces in behind which the visitors could exploit.

Etienne Capoue and Dani Parejo will be the central midfield partnership flanked by Manu Trigueros on the right and Alfonso Pedraza on the left, who is likely to be a key outlet for the Yellow Submarine going forward.

Gerard Moreno, who scored both of Villarreal’s goals against RB Salzburg in midweek is a certain starter in attack. The Spaniard will have international teammate Paco Alcacer for support at the top, with the likes of Samu Chuckwueze and Carlos Bacca options from the bench.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Asenjo; Costa, Albiol, Torres, Estupinan; Trigueros, Parejo, Capoue, Pedraza; Moreno, Alcacer

Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid, meanwhile, will be without Kieran Trippier and Jose Maria Gimenez due to suspension and injury respectively. Yannick Carrasco is also a major doubt with an injury but Stefan Savic is back in contention after missing the last league game due to suspension.

Los Colchoneros ought to continue setting up in a 3-5-2 formation in front of goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Stefan Savic, Felipe and Mario Hermoso should form the three-man defensive unit while Sime Vrsaljko and Renan Lodi slot in as the wing-backs on the right and left sides respectively.

Vrsaljko starting would allow Marcos Llorente to return to his natural habitat in the centre of the park from where he will look to join the strikers and provide a numerical advantage in the final third for his team. Koke, meanwhile, should sit deep and dictate play with Thomas Lemar occupying the remaining slot from where he will act as the ball-carrier for Atletico.

Up front, Joao Felix has been going through a rough patch of late and as a result, could be given a break by the manager. In his place, Angel Correa ought to partner Luis Suarez in the two-man strikeforce for the La Liga leaders at Estadio de la Ceramica.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Oblak; Savic, Felipe, Hermoso; Vrsaljko, Llorente, Koke, Lemar, Lodi; Correa, Suarez

Key Stats

  • Atletico are undefeated in their last six away matches in La Liga.
  • Villarreal are undefeated in their last five home matches against Atletico Madrid in all competitions.
  • Gerard Moreno has scored in his last five league games. If he does so again on Sunday, he will become the first player in Villarreal’s history to score in six consecutive La Liga fixtures.
  • Luis Suarez is Atletico Madrid’s top scorer in La Liga with 16 goals. As for Villarreal, their leading goalscorer in the competition is Gerard Moreno (14).
  • Atletico Madrid have collected only five points out of the last 12 available to them (W1 D2 L1).

Player to Watch

Luis Suarez

It has been a memorable season for the Uruguayan centre-forward, who has gone about proving his doubters wrong in brilliant fashion, plundering 16 goals in 20 La Liga outings for Atletico Madrid. And it bodes well for the league leaders that Suarez has scored in each of his last three games played at La Ceramica in La Liga.

With his best mate and Barcelona captain Lionel Messi three ahead of him in the goalscoring charts for the season, Suarez will be aiming to catch up with him with a big display against Villarreal on Sunday night.

Prediction

Villarreal 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Both Villarreal and Atletico Madrid are going through a bit of a rough patch currently, given as the Yellow Submarine have not won any of their last six La Liga games while the Rojiblancos have managed just one win in their last four in the league. It goes without saying that both teams need to correct the course imminently.

The league leaders have done well on the road of late, but Villarreal have an impressive record at home against Diego Simeone’s men. All things considered, we may be in for another 1-1 draw between the two teams on Sunday night.

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