Atlético will be after their fourth victory on the trot when they square off against Betis in Sevilla on Sunday.
Kick-off at the Benito Villaramín, where Atleti are unbeaten since 2006, is set for 17:00 CET.
Keeping their win-streak intact won’t be the only target for Diego Simeone’s band of brothers, as much as they’ll refuse to admit it.
Should Atlético come out of Sevilla triumphantly, all Rojiblanco eyes will be on the Clásico.
A Barcelona win over Real Madrid at the Bernabéu, coupled with an Atleti victory on Sunday, would place the red and whites in pole position for the league title.
The Verdiblancos enter this fixture on just three days rest following a severely demoralising elimination from the Europa League suffered at the hands of their fiercest rivals Sevilla by way of penalty shootout on Thursday–this, after having blown a 2-0 advantage from the first leg of the match-up.
Survival in the junior UEFA competition had provided the Béticos with a thin silver lining in what has been a terrible campaign in La Liga.
Nine points out of the safety zone with only 10 matches remaining this season, the Andalusians are practically a lock to drop into Segunda for the next term.
Gabriel Calderón, who just so happens to have a lovely last name, replaced Juan Carlos Garrido at the helm of the club back in January, but hasn’t been able to turn things around.
With a full week of rest and virtually a full squad, Atleti really have no excuse to lose this game.
“Betis have competed very well in recent games and, despite having suffered a tough blow on Thursday, they have been improving in La Liga,” said Atleti coach Simeone.
“They have balance and are very aggressive. We have to play the game the way we normally have been up until now, responding the best way possible.
“It’s a game of necessity for both of us, because of the obligation to add some points.”
‘El Cholo’ then revolutionised the football world on Saturday when he broke out some novel words.
“It’s clear to me that if, before, things were game-by-game, now, I stress that philosophy doubly,” he said.
“As Luis [Aragonés] would say, we have to win, win, win and win again.”
Tiago will serve a one-match ban this weekend and will be unavailable to Simeone.
Javi Manquillo’s name remains on the injury report and he will miss out, while José Giménez was not selected by Cholo for this trip.
Raúl García is expected to pair-up with Diego Costa up top from the start, which pretty much guarantees ‘The Real Raúl’ will score.
Meanwhile, David Villa will likely begin the game on the bench.
There was a chance los Colchoneros’ own Léo Baptistão — on loan at Betis through the end of the season — would take part in this bout against his former teammates.
Betis would have been required to pay a fee of 100,000 euros in order to allow him to do so.
But, according to AS, defeat to Sevilla in Europa League action and a minor injury sustained by the attacker in that midweek encounter, convinced the Andalusian club it wouldn’t be worth it.
Atlético match selection:
Goalkeepers: Aranzubia, Courtois
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Alderweireld, Juanfran, Insua, Miranda
Midfielders: Mario, Koke, The Real Raúl, Arda, Cebolla, Gabi, Diego, Sosa
Forwards: Adrián, Villa, Costa
Betis match selection:
Goalkeepers: Adán, Sara
Defenders: Chica, Paulau, Amaya, N’Diaye, Lolo Reyes, Figueras, Varela
Midfielders: Matilla, Vadillo, Nono, Juanfran, Juan Carlos, Cedrick
Forwards: Braian Rodríguez, Jorge Molina, Rubén Castro