Diego Simeone will aim to keep the momentum towards Atletico Madrid’s title defence when they visit struggling Deportivo Alaves on Saturday.
Javi Calleja is under intense pressure right now after failing to get anything out of his Deportivo Alaves side. His team is languishing at the bottom of the table after losing all five of their games so far. Moreover, the club currently has the worst records in the league in terms of scoring and defending.
Joselu’s strike from the spot against Real Madrid on the opening weekend remains their only goal this season, while they have shipped in 11 strikes from opponents in their five league games so far. Fellow strugglers Getafe, despite losing six games on the trot, remain in 19th spot, owing to Alaves’ inferior goal difference.
Calleja and his team may not get any immediate relief as they face champions Atletico Madrid, who have been in good form. It may take at least another weekend for Calleja to collect the team’s first points this season, as it looks increasingly difficult to see them beat Diego Simeone’s men during this matchday.
Visitors Atletico Madrid kept the momentum in their title defence after a hard-fought victory over Getafe. Simeone’s charges first had to come back from a goal down and later dive deep to find an injury-time winner, courtesy of veteran striker Luis Suarez, who continues to make his mark at the club.
Simeone’s side scored a decisive injury-time goal, the third time this season, as Atletico have often found it hard on the attacking front. The manager might be happy with the grit his team show in games, but the champions are yet to click and fully display their potential to dominate games and see them off early.
Atletico will look to win against Alaves and keep pace with Real Madrid, who sit on La Liga’s summit. Simeone’s side are yet to lose a game this season, and for the manager’s liking, have conceded more goals than necessary.
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Javi Calleja has a few injury problems to deal with ahead of the game. Edgar Mendez remains out for the rest of the month with a knee injury, while Javier Lopez is absent from the squad. Florian Lejeune is a big doubt as he is yet to recover from an ankle problem.
Pere Pons’ chances of featuring are looking less likely following an abductor issue. In Lejuene’s absence, Alberto Rodriguez could feature at the heart of the Alaves defence alongside Victor Laguardia. Matt Miazga is also pushing for a place in central defence, although the Atletico game may not be where he’d be starting.
Fernando Pacheco will play in goal, while Ruben Duarte and Martin Aguirregabiria will be the two full-backs to complete Alaves’ defence. Callejo will go with a standard 4-4-2 formation to contain the threat of Atletico’s midfield and attackers.
A midfield four of Manu Garcia, Tomas Pina, Mamadou Loum and Luis Rioja taking up the wide position might be what the manager picks for this clash. The front pairing of John Guidetti and Joselu will be expected to get the goals, despite a massive dry run the club are currently enduring.
Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Pacheco; Aguirregabiria, Laguardia, Rodriguez, Duarte; Garcia, Pina, Loum, Rioja: Guidetti, Joselu
For this clash, Diego Simeone will be without midfielder Koke, while Thomas Lemar is also out of contention. Attacker Joao Felix will remain suspended after his dismissal earned him a two-game ban. There are no more concerns in the side with regards to injuries or suspensions.
Simeone’s side has been unable to control games and also lacks a certain fluidity in attack. There were hopes to solve the latter after re-signing Antoine Griezmann, but the French attacker has rather been an unsettling presence for the team.
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The Atletico Madrid manager has to find a way to accommodate him and make him improve their existing attacking unit to gain momentum for their final third performance. Angel Correa, too, has slowed down a bit after a bright start to the season, despite boasting decent numbers of 3 goals and an assist in his six games so far.
Luis Suarez, however, is coming into his stride and scoring goals after a delayed start to the season personally. The Uruguayan will be crucial again to help Atletico’s chances of retaining their title, and Simeone will be hoping his goalscoring form continues against a struggling Alaves.
Simeone is expected to keep a back-three while maintaining an attacking intent by fielding both Griezmann and Correa behind striker Suarez. The absence of Koke will result in a midfield pivot of Rodrigo De Paul and Marcos Llorente.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Oblak; Savic, Gimenez, Hermoso; Trippier, Llorente, De Paul, Carrasco; Correa, Griezmann; Suarez
- Alaves have lost their last six games in La Liga.
- Alaves have failed to score in their last four games in La Liga.
- Atletico Madrid have won their last four away games in La Liga.
- Atletico Madrid have scored at least two goals in their last four away games in La Liga.
- Atletico Madrid have won seven of their last eight matches against Alaves in all competitions.
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After a late return to Atletico at the start of the season following his participation with Uruguay at the Copa America, Suarez found it hard to hit the ground running. After a bit-part role in the opening two games, the striker opened his account for the season against Villareal. He then went two games without a goal and popped up with a crucial brace against Getafe recently.
Those two goals could help Suarez get his scoring form back and he will hope to start producing more decisive moments for the Rojiblancos from here on. Alaves, who are struggling badly, present a terrific opportunity for the front-man to shine his scoring boots.
Deportivo Alaves 0-2 Atletico Madrid
Alaves are struggling badly and are desperate to get their first points on board. Their quest is not helped by the quality of this weekend’s opposition as Atletico Madrid are understandably the predicted winners in this round. Alaves are the worst placed team from an attacking and defensive sense, and Diego Simeone’s men are expected to win.
Luis Suarez coming into his regular goalscoring form is bad news for Alaves, while Antoine Griezmann will be hoping to kick-start his second tenure at the club with a goal or assist. Expect Atletico to score at least two goals against Alaves while keeping a clean sheet to keep pace with table-topping rivals Real Madrid.