Atletico Madrid will be aiming to reclaim the top spot in the La Liga table when they take on Real Betis away from home in Matchweek 30 this weekend.

Having lost their place at the top of the pile in La Liga, Atletico Madrid will be eager to wrestle back the advantage in the race for the title when they travel to Estadio Benito Villamarin to lock horns with Real Betis on Sunday night.

Atletico lost crucial ground in the battle for the La Liga crown when they were defeated by Sevilla last time out. That result, coupled with Real Madrid’s victory over Barcelona on Saturday has seen Los Blancos displace Diego Simeone’s men at the top, although both teams are level on points. So, a win is a must for Los Rojiblancos if they are to keep their noses ahead in the title race.

Real Betis, meanwhile, are located sixth in the La Liga standings, level on points with Real Sociedad in the fifth place. They are in a decent run of form, having won four of their last six games, although they were held to a 1-1 draw by Elche in their most recent fixture. A win here could strengthen their bid for European football in the next season.

The reverse fixture saw Atletico Madrid pick up a 2-0 win over ten-man Real Betis with goals coming from Marcos Llorente and Luis Suarez. Ahead of the latest meeting on Sunday night, The Hard Tackle takes a closer look at both teams.

Team News & Tactics

Real Betis

Real Betis will have to make do without the services of Victor Ruiz, who is suspended due to accumulation of cards while Victor Camarasa and Dani Martin are sidelined with injuries. Andres Guardado and leading goalscorer Borja Iglesias have also been ruled out, handing a blow to Manuel Pellegrini.

Former Barcelona ace Claudio Bravo will man the goal for the hosts, protected by the centre-back partnership of Aissa Mandi and Sidnei who should come into the side for the suspended Ruiz, although Marc Bartra is also an option. Emerson and Alex Moreno will be the two full-backs and will have the license to push forward at every possible chance.

William Carvalho, who had a decent game against Elche last time out, should hold the fort in the middle of the park alongside Guido Rodriguez, who has been linked with a host of Premier League clubs including Liverpool. The creative onus will lie on the shoulders of Sergio Canales, who will slot in as the No. 10 and look to escape the attention of Koke.

Aitor Ruibal will be stationed out on the right flank while dangerman Nabil Fekir ought to line up on the left. With Iglesias ruled out, Juanmi becomes the automatic choice to lead the line for Real Betis against Atleti.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Bravo; Emerson, Mandi, Sidnei, Moreno; Carvalho, Rodriguez; Ruibal, Canales, Fekir; Juanmi

Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid also have a myriad of roster issues ahead of their trip to Seville as goalscorers from the reverse fixture – Marcos Llorente and Luis Suarez – are both suspended, with the latter even out injured. In addition, Geoffrey Kondogbia is also out with a suspension while Moussa Dembele misses out with an injury.

Diego Simeone is unlikely to tinker with the 3-5-2 system that he has deployed for the majority of this season with Jan Oblak being the man under the woodwork. In front of him, Stefan Savic, Jose Maria Gimenez and Mario Hermoso will form the three-man backline who will look to deprive any space for the Real Betis attackers to work with.

Kieran Trippier and Yannick Carrasco should be the two wing-backs on the right and left sides, respectively, with the onus being on them to provide the width going forward. Club captain Koke will sit deep in the middle of the park and look to recycle possession and launch swift attacks. He will have support from Hector Herrera while Thomas Lemar will provide the attacking impetus through the middle.

With Suarez and Llorente ruled out, Joao Felix should get the nod at the top alongside Angel Correa. The duo will look to carve out openings in the Real Betis defence with their sharp link-up play.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Oblak; Savic, Gimenez, Hermoso; Trippier, Herrera, Koke, Lemar, Carrasco; Correa, Felix

Key Stats

  • Atletico Madrid have lost only one of their last 11 away La Liga games against Real Betis (W8 D2).
  • Real Betis have lost 12 of their last 15 games against Atletico Madrid in La Liga (W1 D2), including each of the last three. They have failed to score in ten of these 15 matches.
  • After earning 24 points from 24 in La Liga between December 2020 and January 2021, Atletico Madrid have collected only 16 of their last 30 available points (W4 D4 L2).
  • Real Betis have won five of their last six home games in La Liga, including the last three in a row.
  • Luis Suarez (19) and Marcos Llorente (9), who will both be absent for Atletico Madrid on Sunday, have scored 55% of their goals in La Liga this season (28 out of 51).

Player to Watch

Joao Felix

Time to step up and deliver. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Time to step up and deliver. (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

The loss of Luis Suarez, who has been Atletico Madrid’s go-to man for goals this season comes as a huge blow at this crucial juncture of the season. With Marcos Llorente also out, it is time for Joao Felix to step up and deliver. The Portuguese has had an indifferent season thus far, which has resulted in him being in and out of the starting XI quite often.

Indeed, so far in 2020/21, Felix has managed a tally of just seven goals from 24 games, which is well below what is expected of him and what he can deliver. The 21-year-old has shown in the past that he can make a difference for the team. It is now up to him to make his chances count and ensure that Atletico Madrid do not slip up further in the title race.

Prediction

Real Betis 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Real Betis are in a good moment heading into Sunday’s game with their form at home particularly impressive. The same cannot be said of Atletico Madrid, who were handed a defeat the last time they travelled to Andalusia. Throw in the number of absentees due to injuries and suspension, things become even harder for Diego Simeone’s side.

However, Real Betis will be without their top scorer in Borja Iglesias and given Atletico’s solid rearguard, that could hurt their chances on Sunday. All things considered, a 1-1 draw seems the likeliest outcome at the Benito Villamarin.

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