Athletic Club vs Atletico Madrid: La Liga Match Preview and Prediction
After four weeks of Bundesliga action, La Liga is back as nine fixtures remain for each team this season. There is a lot to be played for at both ends of the table. The title race is super tight, the race for the European spots is still not confirmed and the relegation places are far from being decided.
This Sunday will be all about the clash between Atletico Madrid and Athletic Club, with a lot of things to be dealt with on both sides.
Athletic are currently tenth in the league but they still have a more than decent opportunity to make it to the Europa League spot.
Atletico Madrid after having a tough season, were brilliant at Anfield and their courageous display secured them a place in the Champions League quarter-finals just before football’s suspension. They are currently sixth and in the hunt for the Champions League spot.
Head to Head
Atletico Madrid are clearly ahead in the head-to-head clash, winning 22 and losing only seven. The last meeting between the sides was at Wanda Metropolitano in October where the hosts won 2-0 with Saul Niguez and Alvaro Morata on the scoresheet.
However, when the sides met at San Mames last time, it was Athletic Club who emerged as winners, winning 2-0, courtesy of their talented striker Inaki Williams, whose stock has risen in the last year.
It is very hard to forget the last time Los Rojiblancos stepped on the field before the suspension of football.
A historic 3-2 win at Anfield sealed Diego Simeone’s side’s progress to the quarter-finals of the Champions League, the game that will be etched in every Reds’ mind for a long time.
Atletico’s league form though has not been the best but if considered only the positives, the defensive unit is doing better than the rest. Despite losing to city rivals Real Madrid twice in January and also losing in an embarrassing fashion to third-tier Cultural Leonesa, Simeone will try to make his squad focus on their strengths.
Their biggest concern this season has been the lack of goals. Antoine Griezmann’s departure has left a void that is clearly visible this season.
Athletic Club on the other side have had an interesting cup run, knocking out Barcelona and are currently in the Copa Del Rey where they will face Real Sociedad in the first-ever all-Basque derby final.
However, they have not been consistent enough in the league, winning just two La Liga games since the beginning of 2020. However, they did manage to win their most recent game that was a 4-1 victory away against Real Valladolid.
Atletico Madrid are unbeaten in their last five games in all competitions, winning three and drawing two, including wins against Liverpool in both the legs in the UCL. Athletic Club have managed to win only two out of their last five games in all competitions, having lost the other three.
Athletic Club go into their comeback fixture without Inigo Lekue, the full-back recently returned to training after an ankle sprain. Oscar de Marcos is set to return after an ankle surgery but has not contributed in any way this season, hence, he may not be risked too.
Unfortunately, the club’s big positive, the veteran striker Aritz Aduriz will also be absent as he required an urgent hip replacement to be done making him unavailable for the Copa Del Rey final too.
Simeone’s side will be without their record signing Joao Felix, who picked up a booking in their last league match before the break. Croatian full-back Sime Vrsaljko will also miss the game.
Renan Lodi has recovered after being infected with coronavirus and is ready to make his comeback in the left-back spot, with Diego Costa also ready to play.
Yuri Berchiche vs Alvaro Morata
The 30-year-old defender will be against Morata, who has had a mixed season so far.
The former Chelsea striker's performance in the UCL against Liverpool was something that Berchiche would keep in mind.
Morata has managed to score only eight times in the league and has an assist to his name.
Berchiche has been very good defensively, making crucial clearances and has also managed to score two goals and set up one for his team. The defender has started all the games for Athletic Club and that is enough to prove his fitness this season. The battle will be interesting as both are equally good in air.
Inaki Williams vs Felipe
The hero for the Atheltic Club against Barcelona will be against Felipe this weekend.
Both players have good potential but haven't been up to the mark this season. They will be looking forward to redeem themselves in what will be a slow game with chances at a premium.
Inaki Williams is known for his dribbling. So it will be interesting to see how Felipe manages to be on his toes to encounter the Spaniard.
The aerial battles will be most probably in favor of Felipe as he's shown his dominance in air this season very well.
Atletico Madrid will be hungry to keep a good run going and will be in desperate need to get the three points, increasing their chances to make it to the top four.
Gaizka Gatirano's Athletic Club will be looking to see this game out without many concerns as they eye their big chance at the silverware coming soon.
Both sides have been playing the defensive way lately, thus, there may not be a lot of goals for the fans. However, Costa’s unpredictable nature and his ability to get under the skin of the opponent’s backline could reap benefits for Simeone's men.
Predicted Scoreline: Athletic Club1-2 Atletico Madrid