Match preview: Villarreal vs. Atlético

Both teams fighting to reach their goals in final match of the season

Atletico Madrid playmaker Diego Ribas against Villarreal

Diego, here scoring against Villarreal,
could play his last game for Atleti

After our midweek heroics and ensuing festivities, one would almost forget Atlético has one more game to play this season.

The Rojiblancos take on Villarreal in a game that decides in which competitions the two team will be playing next year. Atlético must win to have a chance of qualifying for the next edition of the Champions League, while the Yellow Submarine are involved in a fight with 5 other teams to avoid relegation to the Segunda División.

Villarreal do still have everything in their own hands, because a win will guarantee they stay above Rayo and Zaragoza in the league table. Would they fail to get the three points on Sunday, then they could drop behind their rivals and into 18th place.

Atleti are currently 5th with 53 points, but a loss could see us drop as far as to 8th position. However, we don’t have to worry about losing our Europa League spot, because by winning this year’s title we have automatically qualified for next season’s campaign.

Instead of looking down, Atlético will be looking up the table where Málaga are situated two points above us. If we can overtake the nouveau-riche then we’ll qualify for the Champions League, but we’re relying heavily on the result at La Rosaleda where Málaga host Sporting Gijón. Only if Atlético win and Málaga fail to do so will we finish in 4th, in all other scenarios we’ll have to settle for another run in the European competition that we have become more than familiar with.

The final match of the 2011/2012 La Liga season also signals the end of a handful of players all around the league. As always the futures of many Atlético players will remain uncertain until the transfer window closes, but it’s clear that this will be the last time that our longest serving player and captain, Antonio López, will suit up in red and white.

Luis Perea also departs the club next month, but unfortunately won’t be able to say goodbye on the pitch. The foreigner with most appearances in club history (314) is unavailable due to injury.

The loan deals of two regulars, Thibaut Courtois and Diego Ribas, are also expiring, but hopefully the duo will return to the Vicente Calderón after the summer.

Arda Turan misses this game through suspension, while Tiago returns to the squad after missing the Europa League final.

In the pre-match press conference Diego Simeone spoke of Atlético’s limited options to end the season on another high.

“When we [the coaching staff] started, we were 10 points off the 4th spot. Now there’s a minimal chance, it doesn’t depend on us, but at least we are at the final game and we still have options.”

The Argentine coach realized that his team will have to play with a lot of intensity from the start: “If we’re going to sit back, then this won’t go well. We’ll be looking to start strong.”

If Atlético want to get off to a great start, then it’s likely Radamel Falcao will be involved. The Colombian striker netted early in Wednesday’s Europa League final against Athletic and added a second later on. El Tigre has had a great campaign, scoring 35 goals in all competitions, and is feared at El Madrigal. In three previous meetings with the yellows he has scored 7 goals, including a brace when the teams last met in January.

Villarreal head coach Miguel Ángel Lotina, the third coach this season at the normally stable club, labelled the game as “the game of the year.”

“For us it’s clear, this is the game of the year and we’ll be playing for everything. Not just the team, but also the club, the fans, the city… everyone is playing an important game for our future.”

“Atlético has convincingly won the Europa League and they are in good form. They have been playing well at the end of this season and they could make it even better. We’ll have to play a great game [to win].”

Lotina called up all his available players, but will miss Jonathan De Guzmán through suspension. Italian superstar Giuseppe Rossi is still sidelined with a knee injury.

Villarreal match selection
Goalkeepers: Diego López, César
Defenders: Gonzalo, Joan Oriol, Musacchio, Ángel, Marchena, Zapata, Mario, Catalá, Jaume Costa
Midfielders: Senna, Cani, Hernán Pérez, Castellani, Camuñas, Wakaso, Borja Valero, Bruno
Forwards: Nilmar and Marco Rubén.

Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Courtois, Asenjo
Defenders: Godín, Antonio López, Filipe, Domínguez, Juanfran, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Gabi, Koke, Salvio, Diego
Forwards: Falcao, Pizzi, Adrián and Pedro.

Referee: Estrada Fernández

The game will kick off on Sunday at 8 PM (CET).

What do you think the score will be? Predict now in the AtléticoFans Prediction League!

  • Dircil

    our last chance for CL. Now or never

  • Hopefuly Malaga loss or draw. I dont want Villareal to relagate hopeful some result favour them all i know is we gonna kick their ass.

  • I’d love us to win this one! And Villarreal to go down, I really don’t like them. And also, Gijon, fellow rojiblanco team: Please win. Just do it. Yeh?

  • leika
    Hope this to be true! Good LUCK to our team tonight. We are gonna need it. I’ll take this place as a must win cause it’s the last game of the season and not think about the possible CL qualification, le’t just see how things go for us.

  • starvs

    Unfortunately neither Diego or Simeone are the ones who make the decision regarding where Diego plays next year.

  • Will

    Damn it, Aguero!

  • Javi Lozoya

    Atleti B is losing 4-1 to Leganes in the play offs. I guess we ain’t going to Segunda this season. Sucks.

  • Man this sucks Gijon need to beat malaga by at least five goals to nil to STAY alive but who cares once they win and us win we get cl football!!!!

    Auap Atleti!!!!!!!!!

  • shay

    Can anyone tell me where can i watch the game in a good quality? any website or something?

  • shlomgar

    @Randy German
    If I get the system right, Sporting is battling two, Zaragoza and Rayo. If Gijon manages to win and Zar+Rayo loses than both are relegated and Gijon stayes. On their fixtures:
    Gijon – 7pts
    Zaragoza – 5 pts
    Rayo – 4 pts

    Any bad news from their games and both Rojiblancos will be in trouble.

  • kabir

    does anyone have a stream? I can’t find any! help!

  • AtletiFanInPhilly

    Seconded: Is there a link to watch this game? In the US, it is not on GolTV or ESPN Deportes.

  • leika

    Unfortunately Malaga has started strong, wich is obviously not a surprise

  • leika

    Salvio thinks he is the star

  • DJ_ZA

    … guess I shouldn’t be complaining about the (bad) non-HD ESPN coverage I get – at the moment they have simultaneous Spanish & English commentary – thank goodness that annoying Tommy Smyth’s not commentating.

  • DJ_ZA

    Hey AtletiFanInPhilly and kabir you can try:

    if you don’t mind the Spanish commentary.

  • AtletiFanInPhilly

    I would love to see the Atleti’s record during games when Tiago starts.

  • atletifanInSanFrancisco

    come on!!!!!!!!! malaga 0 sporting 0. we need to score!

  • k14

    sportlemon Dot tv

    you will find a link there with english commentary.

  • atletifanInSanFrancisco

    spoke too soon. sorry gents 🙁

  • DJ_ZA

    Hey AtletiFanInPhilly – heres another one for you

  • leika

    I can’t understand our tactics of long balls to the penalty cross. Theyre defenders are too tall for that, but the onyl ones who dont see it are us

  • leika

    but yet again its FALCAO with his HEADER :D:D:D:D

  • leika

    sad 🙁

  • DJ_ZA

    The yellow submarine has sunk !!!! Vallecano are safe!!

  • leika

    In the end it’s again our fault for not using our chances in previous matches. I can’t be happy for our season today, cause the next one will yet again be the same like this one, nothing new here. Maybe tomorrow when I have digested it a little more, I could feel happy for Europa League, but today it’s just sad 🙁

  • shay

    damn.. bye bye diego & radamel?

  • atletifanInSanFrancisco

    i agree with leika-

    europa league is not the priority!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • kabir

    let’s be honest. the entire league except rm and barca have been shit this season. we just have to hope that we assemble a more competitive team. if it means selling falcao, i hope we use the money to bring more depth to the squad. we will have simeone from the beginning this time so he can influence the team how he wants. i think next season can only be an improvement. we have the supercup which we can win. we have to be careful because malaga is going to invest a lot now that they are in the champions league. a stronger malaga means that it will be tougher to get a high position in the table. lets bring back diego costa and raul garcia, and create a strong block. we DID NOT deserve the champions league. lets be honest about that

  • atletifanInSanFrancisco

    We didnt deserve it but neither did Valencia or Malaga. So many chances thrown away. I feel gutted. Valencia were free falling and Malaga couldn’t win a game down the stretch.

    I don’t consider this season a success but thats just me. What a goal by Aguero.

  • k14

    Eventhough our atleti didn’t make it to the CL, they are still impressive. This season started 1 week late and ended 1 week at least earlier because of the Euro 2012.

    Not only does the EL have more games than the CL, but we also played every game possible in it as atleti had to go through 4 extra games for playoffs.

    So winning the EL and finishing just a mere 2 points away is impressive with our short squad.

  • kabir

    of course it isnt a success. but simeone definitely avoided a worse situation. i was at the albacete and betis games we lost. our team played terribly. Manzano left us a mess. Think of it this way: the season was destined to go a lot worse in December. There was talk of not even qualifying for the europa league. we won the europa league! this season ended up going a lot better than last season, despite our huge slip-up in the first half. also, practically our entire team is new. lets hope we get some continuity an avoid too many sales, and we will have a huge chance at cl qualification next season.

  • atletifanInSanFrancisco

    Why did we have to be so poor in la liga and phenomenal in europa???

  • DJ_ZA

    WTF – Is this Real Madrid celebration for real !?!?

  • kabir

    @DJ_ZA this is why this league sickens me sometimes.

  • DJ_ZA

    There wasn’t any team who really showed they were worthy of the remaining 2 CL spots – everyone slipped up and we could so easily have qualified if we’d just had a bit of luck.

    You could argue that Atleti were actually the most impressive having played so many Europa and Liga matches. The team to compare ourselves to (this season) is Bilbao – and we’ve finished off way better than they have and have silverware to show for it.
    We’ll see what Malaga are made of next season. Villarreal had that spot last season – and all it’s brought them is relegation.
    So while i’m disappointed (today) we got pipped at the final hurdle – I don’t see this seasons performance as a failure.
    And if we don’t retain the services of players we’d perhaps like to see at the Calderon next season…. well that’s just football – another challenge for Simeone and something else for us to talk about.
    So well done Atleti.
    Siempre ATLETI!

  • ali_

    DJ_ZA: what was on that real celebration?