Atletico Madrid will continue their push for a top-four finish when they play hosts to Granada at Wanda Metropolitano on Wednesday.
Following a controversial win over Espanyol, Atletico Madrid are aiming to maintain their winning ways as they lock horns with Granada. It is a must-win encounter for Diego Simeone’s men, in their quest to secure a top-four place come the end of the season.
Atletico are currently standing fourth in La Liga table, with 60 points on the board. They are level on points with second and third-placed Barcelona, Sevilla, so a win on Wednesday could potentially take them to the second spot, just behind table toppers and cross-town rivals Real Madrid.
On the flip side, Atletico Madrid are being closely followed by Real Sociedad and Real Betis, so any mishap could see Los Colchoneros drop outside of the top four. Fortunately for the hosts, a match-up against struggling Granada could be an ideal opportunity to maintain their winning form and extend their lead over the two clubs.
Heading into this game on the back of just 29 points collected in 32 matches, Granada are in contention for potential relegation. They are only leading relegation-threatened Mallorca by a superior goal difference, but the visitors will be hoping for an upturn of fortunes, having appointed Aitor Karanka as their new coach.
Atletico Madrid could thus expect a fierce encounter against an opponent, who have nothing to lose as we head towards the final phase of the campaign. And here, at the Hard Tackle, we will run the rule over these two sides in this crucial match-up at Wanda Metropolitano this midweek.
Team News & Tactics
Atletico Madrid are missing a couple of key players due to suspension. Geoffrey Kondogbia was sent off in the win over Espanyol while Felipe is missing after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season.
❝Granada is a team that has always shown good attacking play❞. pic.twitter.com/YbK9BlHADR
— Atlético de Madrid (@atletienglish) April 19, 2022
Felipe is joined by Jose Maria Gimenez in Atletico Madrid’s list of absentees, meaning Diego Simeone only has two recognised centre-backs at his disposal heading into this contest. It could bring about a change in setup, with Simeone likely to shift to a back three, with Stefan Savic, Mario Hermoso and Sime Vrsaljko occupying the central defensive slots.
Marcos Llorente and Yannick Carrasco should operate as wing-backs. They will be given the freedom to make darting runs forward and cause menace in the opposition defence with their pinpoint crosses.
Additional creative support should come from the midfielders in Koke and Rodrigo de Paul, with the latter, in particular, set to play a key role in offering the transition between midfield and the attack. His combination play with the two advanced attackers in Thomas Lemar and Angel Correa could be equally important.
Meanwhile, the Atleti frontline should be spearheaded by Joao Felix once again, though Simeone has players like Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann on the bench ready to make an impact.
Probable Lineup (3-4-2-1): Oblak; Vrsaljko, Savic, Hermoso; Llorente, Koke, De Paul, Carrasco; Lemar, Correa; Felix
Granada are missing a key defensive player in German Sanchez heading into this affair. The veteran is facing a suspension after picking up a couple of yellow cards in the 4-1 defeat at the hands of Levante.
— Granada CF 🇺🇸🇬🇧 (@GranadaCF_en) April 18, 2022
Sanchez’s unavailability should leave the newly-appointed Aitor Karanka with no option but to deploy Pepe Sanchez in the starting eleven. The 22-year-old looks set to form Granada’s back three alongside Domingos Duarte and Victor Diaz.
The three central defenders can expect additional support from wing-backs Quini and Sergio Escudero, with both of them unlikely to be given the freedom to march forward with the ball. A lot could depend on how Atletico approach this game, though.
As for the offensive unit, Granada will once again bank on the services of veteran frontman Jorge Molina. The 39-year-old is currently the club’s top scorer with eight goals and his performance could go a long way in dictating the fate of this encounter.
Probable Lineup (5-2-1-2): Maximiano; Quini, Diaz, Duarte, Sanchez, Escudero; Puertas, Milla; Collado; Molina, Machis
- Atletico Madrid haven’t lost any of their last 18 home games against Granada in La Liga, winning the last nine, which is their best winning streak at home against them in the competition.
- Granada have won only one of their last 22 meeting with Atletico Madrid in La Liga, losing 2-1 at Nuevo Los Carmenes in December. Only once has the Nasrid team won two in a row against Rojiblancos in the competition and that was in 1960.
- Atletico Madrid have lost their last two games on Wednesday in La Liga, both coming in the current season, after not losing in their previous 19 league games played that day.
- Granada have won only one of their six away games on Wednesday in La Liga, with their only victory coming against Alaves in July 2020.
- Atletico Madrid have won seven of their last eight La Liga home games, including the last four, their longest winning streak at Wanda Metropolitano this season.
Player to Watch
Yannick Carrasco played a vital role in helping Atletico Madrid secure a win against Espanyol. He bagged a brace, including a 100th-minute penalty to seal the three points. It was a morale-boosting performance from a player who has struggled to offer the productivity in the final third this season.
In fact, the brace against Espanyol was the first time the Belgian had gotten to the scoresheet since the 4-2 defeat in Barcelona in early February. Carrasco’s return to form could be a major boost for an Atletico side hoping to make a late push for the second place, and take advantage of Barcelona’s receding form.
But it is essential Carrasco performs well once again, especially against a Granada side who are likely to defend in deep block and make life difficult for the Atletico Madrid forwards.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Granada
Atletico Madrid have struggled to deal with teams that defend in deep blocks. It was evident in the Espanyol game and even in the Champions League second-leg clash against Manchester City. It won’t be surprising to see Simeone’s men encountering similar problems in this midweek contest against Granada.
We are predicting a low scoring game, with Los Colchoneros once again likely to win the game by the barest of margins. However, a lot will depend on how Granada approach this game since an attacking stance could see them concede goals for fun.