Atletico Madrid are eyeing back-to-back wins in La Liga as they host Elche in the first home game of the season at the Wanda Metropolitano.
Two goals from Angel Correa on either side of an Iago Aspas penalty sealed three points for Atletico Madrid as they opened their La Liga account last weekend. A late melee against Celta Vigo might have made things a bit nasty; it certainly did not stop the Rojiblancos from getting across the line with a win.
Atletico picked up 48 points from their 19 games at home last season, the division’s best home record. Diego Simeone would like his side to emulate the good performances at the Wanda Metropolitano as the Argentine manager bids to win back-to-back La Liga titles.
Despite a turbulent summer at rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid, Simeone would still consider them title challengers. However, from a squad quality perspective, he might feel they have a strong chance of beating those sides again for the title while churning away vital wins against weaker opponents will be a key factor.
The visiting side, Elche, did not have the best of starts to their La Liga campaign, managing a goalless draw against Athletic Bilbao on their opening matchday. The La Liga side had the fourth-worst away record last season, as they narrowly survived relegation, finishing 17th on the league table.
Elche won eight games, drew two and lost 18 in La Liga last season, with only the bottom three managing more defeats. However, manager Fran Escriba has managed few smart signings to address issues from the previous term and hopes to finish better off than before. However, they have two tricky away fixtures to navigate before the end of the month, starting with their trip to Madrid.
Team News & Tactics
Diego Simeone still has injury problems to deal with ahead of the Elche clash. Joao Felix remains injured and unavailable, while Hector Herrera, Marcos Paulo and Santiago Arias are all fitness doubts. Atletico will also be without Mario Hermoso, courtesy of his straight red card late in the game against Celta Vigo.
Kieran Trippier and Luis Suarez, both late arrivals from their respective holidays, came off the bench against Celta and might be primed for their first starts of the season. An he could be tempted to give Rodrigo De Paul his home debut ahead of Geoffrey Kondogbia, even though he was supreme in midfield against Celta.
In defence, Hermoso could be replaced by Felipe, although the defender himself could be assessed late on. Simeone will continue with a back three featuring Jose Gimenez, Stefan Savic and Felipe.
The Atletico Manager could opt to field three central midfielders and two strikers upfront. In contention for his home debut, De Paul could lineup alongside Koke and Saul Niguez, while Kieran Trippier and Yannick Carrasco provided width from wing-back positions. Luis Suarez could be partnered with Angel Correa, who scored twice against Celta.
Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Oblak; Savic, Gimenez, Filipe; Trippier, Koke, De Paul, Saul, Carrasco; Correa, Suarez
Fran Escriba was left impressed by his side’s display in the last game. Although he started the game with a 3-5-2 formation, the manager might go for a different setup against Atletico. The idea would be to attack Diego Simeone’s defensive trio, better served with more players playing forward.
Injury wise Excriba has no new problems and will likely retain the same set of players but will only tweak the formation a little to suit a different style. For instance, Pere Milla could play behind striker Lucas Boye to make a better impact on the proceedings and amend the tap-in he missed in the last game.
Otherwise, Kiko Casilla seems to have earned his place as Elche’s starting goalkeeper after arriving on loan from Leeds United. Gonzalo Verdu, Pedro Bigas and Enzo Roco will form a back-three, while Raul Guti will partner Ivan Marcone in central midfield.
Johan Mojica and Josan will look to attack Atletico through the wide areas from wing-backs positions while providing attacking support to the forward players. Escriba will likely field Fidel and Milla behind Boye, although these players will interchange positions, with Fidel also dropping in central midfield areas to control the game.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Casilla; Verdu, Bigas, Roco; Josan, Guti, Marcone, Mojica; Milla, Fidel; Boye
- Atletico Madrid have won their last six home games.
- The Rojiblancos have won their last six home games against Elche.
- Atletico Madrid have kept clean sheets in six of their last eight games against Elche
- Elche had the fourth-worst away record in La Liga last season.
- Atletico had the best home record in La Liga last season.
Player to Watch
Correa has always proved to be a vital player for Atletico ever since he signed. Never in the spotlight, like current and former stars such as Diego Costa or Luis Suarez, the Argentine has silently developed a reputation of an effective attacker.
His two goals against Celta Vigo last weekend highlighted his prowess in Simeone’s setup, and the manager will be eager to show more confidence in him to get his season rolling. Correa will be hoping to provide the much-needed ammunition against weaker teams and score plenty of goals this season to help the team retain their La Liga title.
Atletico Madrid 3-0 Elche
On paper, Elche are no match to Atletico’s firepower, while their attackers don’t seem capable of penetrating the La Liga champions’ backline. Their horrid away record could also have a bearing on the result, especially considering Atletoco’s division-topping home record from last season.
Expect more goals than the last game from Atletico, especially when they have more attack-minded players coming back into the side, such as Rodrigo De Paul, Luis Suarez and Kieran Trippier. The La Liga champions should continue their bright start with another win and three points against Elche.