Atletico Madrid will be aiming to maintain pressure on league leaders Real Madrid when they take on Cadiz on Sunday.

Reigning Spanish champions Atletico Madrid have been going through a rough patch lately. Although unbeaten in the league since late September, Los Colchoneros have not performed well in Europe and are running the risk of finishing at the bottom of Group B in the UEFA Champions League.

Atleti’s most recent mishap came against AC Milan, with a narrow defeat meaning Diego Simeone’s men must win on the final matchday and hope the other result goes in their favour. They are on much better terms in La Liga, with 26 points in 13 matches.

Unbeaten in the last six games, the reigning champions will have the opportunity to put pressure on league leaders Real Madrid when they travel to Estadio Nuevo Mirandilla to face Cadiz. Atletico Madrid are currently fourth in the league but are trailing their city rivals by just four points.

While Real Madrid have been in splendid form in the league, they are awaiting a tricky encounter against third-placed Sevilla on the same day, giving Atletico Madrid the opportunity to potentially close the gap at the top.

Their opponent this weekend, Cadiz are no pushovers, though, despite currently standing just a point outside the drop zone. With only 12 points in 14 games, the Andalusians have one of the worst defensive records in the league, having conceded 23 goals so far. However, they are a spirited unit, indicated by the fact that they have lost just once in their last four league outings.

Cadiz will be hoping to replicate that resilience when they take on defending champions. And here, at The Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides ahead of their crucial match-up this weekend.

Team News & Tactics

Cadiz

Cadiz head coach Alvaro Cervera usually likes to operate with a 4-4-2, especially against big teams. He is destined to persist with the same formula this weekend, deploying a deep defensive line, with two blocks of four covering Jeremias Ledesma in goal.

The onus will be on Varazdat Haroyan and Fali to offer the defensive solidity at the heart of the Cadiz back-four. The additional support from the fullback may also be critical in their bid to contain the Atletico Madrid forward line this weekend.

Cadiz, though, are unfortunately missing a few key players in midfield, including Tomas Alarcon. Jens Jonsson remains a doubt as well, although Cervera has confirmed that the Dane is in contention to feature. He will thus occupy the central midfield position, forming the double-pivot alongside the more attack-minded Alex Fernandez.

Elsewhere, the wide attackers in Salvi Sanchez and Alberto Perea will be tasked with the responsibility of offering creativity into the box for the strike duo of Choco Lozano and Ruben Sobrino, although coach Cervera also has the option of deploying the experienced Alvaro Negredo. The former Manchester City forward offers a more physical and aerial presence in the box.

Probable Lineup (4-4-2): Ledesma; Carcelen, Haroyan, Fali, Espino; Salvi, Jonsson, Fernandez, Perea; Lozano, Sobrino

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Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid are not missing too many key players other than Kieran Trippier and Joao Felix. Trippier’s absence has been a major blow for Diego Simeone, though, as Atleti have not been as lethal or productive on the right flank.

Nevertheless, the onus of deputising for the Englishman will once again be on Marcos Llorente. Yannick Carrasco also remains a guaranteed starter on the opposite flank, having established himself as a creator-in-chief for Los Colchoneros lately.

Simeone, though, may opt for a 4-3-3 to start the game, which means Sime Vrsaljko could actually start at right-back, while Mario Hermoso is a favourite to feature on the opposite flank. However, the latter is largely expected to work alongside the two central defenders in Stefan Savic and Jose Maria Gimenez, thus forming a situational back three.

The little manoeuvre will allow Vrsaljko to march forward on the right flank, although it is Llorente who is likely to make runs across the byline. The same applies for Carrasco on the opposite end of the pitch, with the partnering Thomas Lemar operating in a more central area of the field.

Koke, meanwhile, should continue to feature in the withdrawn midfield role. His ability to orchestrate the game is often vital for Atletico Madrid in games like these. But it will be equally important for the forwards Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez to make full use of their opportunities, especially after a disappointing midweek loss to AC Milan.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Oblak; Savic, Gimenez, Hermoso; Vrsaljko, Llorente, Koke, Lemar, Carrasco; Griezmann, Suarez

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Key Stats

  • Cadiz haven’t won in their last 12 matches against Atletico Madrid in La Liga, their longest winless streak against Rojiblancos in the competition – their last victory came in March 1989.
  • After their winning first four home matches in La Liga against Atletico Madrid between 1978 and 1985, Cadiz have won only one of their last nine home matches against them in the competition.
  • Atletico Madrid have lost only one in five of their 37 visits to Andalusian teams in La Liga since Diego Simeone took charge (W20 D12), after losing in 17 of their previous 37.
  • This is the fourth season where Cadiz have won two or fewer games after their first 14 matches in La Liga, after 1983/84, 1990/91 and 1992/93 – they were relegated in two of the previous three.
  • After four consecutive away victories in La Liga between May and September, Atletico Madrid haven’t won in their last three away trips in the competition – they have conceded in seven straight league games away from home for the first time since 2010 (17).

Player to Watch

Yannick Carrasco

Atletico Madrid's Belgian midfielder Yannick Ferreira Carrasco celebrates his second goal during the Spanish league football match Atletico de Madrid vs Osasuna at the Vicente Calderon stadium in Madrid on April 15, 2017. / AFP PHOTO / PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU (Photo credit should read PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU/AFP/Getty Images)

The difference-maker. (Photo by Pierre-Philippe Marcou/AFP/Getty Images)

Amid all the superstars present in this Atletico Madrid team, including Antoine Griezmann and Luis Suarez, it is Yannick Carrasco who has been one of the club’s best performers this season. An ever-present figure on the left flank in Simeone’s system, he has truly made an impression with his dynamism and work ethic out wide.

Carrasco’s tally of two goals and three assists in 13 league matches might not appear extraordinary. But his overall contributions have been far greater, with the Belgian being particularly handy on the counter due to his pace and ability to make darting runs in behind the opposition backline.

It is why Carrasco has played more minutes than any other outfield player for Atletico Madrid this season. And the explosive winger will be hoping to make his presence felt once again as Los Colchoneros lock horns with Cadiz this weekend.

Prediction

Cadiz 0-1 Atletico Madrid

This promises to be a low-scoring encounter as Atletico Madrid have not looked particularly sharp this season. With Marcos Llorente enduring a rather slow start to the season and Antoine Griezmann struggling to make an immediate impact, Diego Simeone’s men have often found it difficult to breach past opposition defences, especially ones who opt for a deep defensive line.

Cadiz are no exception as coach Alvaro Cervera looks to frustrate the Atleti forwards. However, we are expecting a narrow for the visitors purely due to their marvellous work-ethic and fighting spirit that has seen them collect points from unlikeliest of positions over the past few years.

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