Atletico Madrid will return to La Liga action when they take on RCD Mallorca at the Iberostar Stadium on Saturday.

Atletico Madrid come into their latest La Liga encounter fresh from a 1-0 defeat to Manchester City in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League quarter-final tie at the Emirates. Diego Simeone’s men took an ultra-defensive approach that has been criticised by fans and pundits alike. They have local assignments to look forward to before the second leg.

Atletico Madrid have not had the greatest of seasons after winning the league last term. They are currently third in La Liga, 12 points behind leaders Real Madrid. The Rojiblancos are level on points with Barcelona, who are second but have played a match more than the Blaugrana.

Their current league form is quite impressive, though. They have won eight of their last ten La Liga matches and are currently on a six-match winning streak in the league. If they beat Mallorca, Atletico Madrid will temporarily go above Xavi’s men on the league table but that could change when Barcelona take on Levante on Sunday.

Mallorca, on the other hand, are in the relegation zone at 18th with 26 points in 30 matches. They are just two points behind 17th-placed Cadiz, however, and would want to string a series of favourable results to climb out of the drop zone.

Their current run of form would not give them much confidence, though. Mallorca have lost all of their last seven league matches, which has pushed them into the relegation zone after a strong start to the season. Things do not look like getting any easier for them as they prepare to face Diego Simeone’s side.

But they might take some confidence from the last meeting between these two sides. Mallorca had defeated Atletico 2-1 when the sides met in December at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Team News & Tactics

Atletico Madrid

While Diego Simeone employed a highly defensive tactic against Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City, he is not expected to go in with a similar set up against Mallorca. There might not be many changes in the XI that started against City, but expect a completely different approach.

Simeone will continue to be without the services of centre-back Jose Gimenez, central midfielder Hector Herrera and winger Angel Correa. Yannick Carrasco will return to the squad after missing the Manchester City game due to suspension, but he might start on the bench.

The back-three of Stefan Savic, Felipe and Reinildo Mandava are expected to retain their spots, along with goalkeeper Jan Oblak. Sime Vrsaljko and Renan Lodi will continue manning either flank with the midfield three of Marcos Llorente, Koke and Geoffrey Kondogbia also expected to be retained in the XI.

Luis Suarez scored twice in Atletico Madrid’s last La Liga encounter, against Alaves. Joao Felix, too, is in top form and will start as part of the front two. Antonie Griezmann, as a result, might have to sit this one out.

Probable Lineup (3-5-2): Oblak; Savic, Felipe, Reinildo; Vrsaljko, Llorente, Koke, Kondogbia, Lodi; Felix, Suarez

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Mallorca

Javier Aguirre will have his task cut out against Diego Simeone’s side. The former Atletico Madrid manager took over as Mallorca boss in March this year to help them avoid immediate relegation after gaining promotion just last season. His first match in charge was a 1-0 defeat to Getafe, who themselves are fighting to avoid relegation.

The Mallorca manager will be without midfielder Inigo Ruiz de Galarreta, who suffered a cruciate ligament surgery earlier this season. Aguirre will also have to do without defender Franco Russo, who was sent off in their last La Liga encounter.

Aguirre is expected to field a 5-3-2 formation, with Sergio Rico manning the goalpost. Giovanni Gonzalez, Antonio Raillo, Brian Olivan, Martin Valjent and Pablo Maffeo will form the five-man defence, to keep out the likes of Felix and Suarez.

Salva Sevilla, Iddrisu Baba and Dani Rodriguez will fight the midfield battle with Atletico Madrid’s seasoned campaigners. Fer Nino and Vedat Muriqi will continue to lead the Mallorca attack.

Probable Lineup (5-3-2): Rico; Gonzalez, Raillo, Olivan, Valjent, Maffeo; Sevilla, Baba, Rodriguez; Fer Nino, Muriqi

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Key Stats

  • Atletico Madrid have a slight edge in recent meetings between the two sides. They have won two of the last five match-ups against Mallorca with the latter winning one.
  • Mallorca’s most recent win over Atletico Madrid came earlier this season. An injury-time goal from Takefusa Kubo was enough to condemn Rojiblancos to a 2-1 defeat.
  • Only two teams – Levante and Alaves – have conceded more goals than Mallorca’s 50 in the league this season.
  • Atletico Madrid are only second to Real Madrid in terms of league goals scored this season. They have scored 57 so far, as many as Barcelona. Real Madrid have 61.
  • Atletico Madrid have won each of their last six La Liga games, double the number of wins they had picked in their previous ten matches beforehand (W3 D1 L6). They last won seven in a row in the top flight in January 2021 (8).

Player to Watch

Joao Felix

Watch out for Felix! (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Watch out for Felix! (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)

Atletico Madrid forward Joao Felix will be the player to watch out for when the Rojiblancos face off against RCD Mallorca. Felix has been in red-hot form in La Liga and has recently elevated his game to another level.

The Portuguese international has contributed nine goals (six goals, three assists) in his last eight La Liga appearances and will be a handful for the Mallorca defenders to handle. Expect him to be on the scoresheet again if Atletico Madrid come out with a win from the encounter.

Prediction

RCD Mallorca 0-2 Atletico Madrid

Atletico Madrid would like to bounce back from their 1-0 defeat to Manchester City and continue their fine form in the league. A win would take them up to the second spot and put pressure on Barcelona, and that should be enough motivation for them to register a victory. Expect Diego Simeone’s side to register a 2-0 victory and exact revenge for their defeat in the league earlier this season.

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