Atletico Madrid will be aiming to keep their winning momentum intact when they face off against Rayo Vallecano in La Liga on Saturday night.

Atletico Madrid will look to make it five wins in a row in all competitions when they travel to Estadio de Vallecas to take on Rayo Vallecano in La Liga this weekend.

After having had a mediocre season, Atletico Madrid are starting to find form at the right moment as the campaign enters the business end. Diego Simeone’s men have won their last four matches across all competitions and are unbeaten in their previous six. They most recently eliminated Manchester United from the UEFA Champions League to book a place in the quarter-final of the competition.

A late tilt at the La Liga title looks unlikely, considering that the defending champions are 15 points behind league leaders Real Madrid. But Atletico Madrid can still aim for second place, as they are just five points shy of Sevilla, with ten games left to be played in the season.

Rayo Vallecano, meanwhile, look set for a midtable finish this season, as they currently occupy the 13th spot in the standings, with 32 points from 27 games. Andoni Iraola’s side are eight points clear of the relegation zone. However, their form in La Liga since the turn of the year has been torrid, as the newly-promoted club are yet to win a single league game in 2022 – a run of nine games without a victory.

However, Rayo Vallecano did manage to hold Sevilla to a 1-1 draw last time out and can draw confidence from the result when they take on the defending champions. The reverse fixture ended in a 2-0 victory for Atletico Madrid.

Team News & Tactics

Rayo Vallecano

The home team will be without former Atletico Madrid striker Radamel Falcao, along with Esteban Saveljich, Martin Merquelanz and Unai Lopez. Isi Palazon and Alvaro Garcia are back in contention for Rayo Vallecano after missing the last game against Sevilla. 

As usual, Andoni Iraola will set his team up in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Stoke Dimitrievski manning the goal. The rest of the team will look to hold their defensive shape and deny Atletico Madrid space to limit their offensive capabilities. Mario Suarez and Alejandro Catena should be the two centre-backs, flanked by the full-back duo of Ivan Balliu and Fran Garcia on the right and left sides, respectively.

The onus of keeping things tight in the centre of the park will fall on the shoulders of Santi Comesana and Oscar Valentin, while Oscar Trejo will take up the creative burden, slotting in as the No. 10 for the hosts.

The threat from the wide areas ought to come from Bebe and the returning Alvaro Garcia. The former will be looking forward to building on his goalscoring display against Sevilla last time out. Up top, there is no looking past Sergi Guardiola, who can cause problems to the Atletico Madrid defence.

Probable Lineup (4-2-3-1): Dimitrievski; Balliu, Suarez, Catena, Fran Garcia; Comesana, Valentin; Bebe, Trejo, Alvaro Garcia; Guardiola

Atletico Madrid

Matheus Cunha, Thomas Lemar, Daniel Wass and Sime Vrsaljko all miss out with injuries yet again, while Yannick Carrasco has also been ruled out. Youngster Javi Serrano will also be unavailable after being sent off in the last La Liga clash against Cadiz. Diego Simeone is unlikely to make many changes to the team that saw off Manchester United in midweek.

Jan Oblak, who put on one of his best displays of the season at Old Trafford, is a certain starter in goal for Atletico Madrid. Stefan Savic, Jose Maria Gimenez and Reinildo Mandava, who has made a big difference since arriving in January, will form the three-man backline for the visitors again.

Marcos Llorente and Renan Lodi should occupy the wing-back slots on the right and left sides respectively, with the latter likely to provide a key attacking outlet for Atletico Madrid. Hector Herrera will hold the fort in the middle of the park with support from captain Koke, who will also look to drive the team forward along with Rodrigo De Paul.

Joao Felix has been in sharp touch in recent weeks and should hold on to his place in the frontline. But Antoine Griezmann could be given a breather here after his efforts against Manchester United. Angel Correa is likely to replace the Frenchman in the two-pronged attack for Atletico.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Oblak; Savic, Gimenez, Mandava; Llorente, Koke, Herrera, De Paul, Lodi; Correa, Felix

Key Stats

  • Atletico Madrid have won each of their last five matches against Rayo Vallecano in all competitions.
  • Rayo Vallecano are without a victory in their previous nine games in La Liga.
  • Atletico Madrid have won each of their last four matches in La Liga.
  • Atletico Madrid have scored at least two goals in nine of their last ten games in the Spanish top-flight.
  • Rayo Vallecano have lost each of their previous six games against Atletico Madrid in La Liga, failing to score in their last five.

Player to Watch

Joao Felix

Having made a slow start, Joao Felix had seemingly fallen out of favour under Diego Simeone in the early parts of the season. However, the Portuguese international has shown his quality in recent games to become a permanent fixture in attack for Atletico Madrid. The 22-year-old has scored six goals in La Liga this season, and four of them have come in his last four matches, with the Rojiblancos winning each of those.

With Rayo Vallecano likely to defend deep, Felix’s abilities on the ball and his penchant for sniffing out opportunities in the tightest of spaces could come in handy on Saturday night as Atletico search for another victory. 

Prediction

Rayo Vallecano 0-1 Atletico Madrid

Rayo Vallecano have been known to take the game to their opponents, especially at home. However, coming up against an opponent of Atletico Madrid’s stature, they might opt to switch their approach and look to focus on defensive discipline to frustrate their visitors.

Given that Atleti’s strength lies in playing on the counter, things could get difficult for them on Saturday. But their recent form will have filled them with confidence, and Diego Simeone’s men should be able to carve out a narrow win at Estadio de Vallecas.

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