Back in third place, Atlético Madrid will be looking to continue their new found good form on Tuesday night as David Moyes’ Real Sociedad team visit the Vicente Calderón.
The Basque side inflicted defeat on the rojiblancos back in November, and have earned a bit of a reputation this season for upsetting the odds against big teams.
Kick-off in the capital is set for 20:00 CET.
Three successive draws back in March saw Atleti lose ground in their title defence, but they have looked back to their old selves in the last few matches.
Goals from Antoine Griezmann and the returning Saúl Ñíguez were enough to see off Córdoba on Saturday, making it three wins and four clean sheets on the bounce now.
This comes as music to the ears of Diego Simeone with the crunch Champions League quarter-final tie against Real Madrid on the horizon next week, but as you would expected, he insists all that matters at the moment is the league and the next game.
“We are going to have to live each match as if it were the last,” he told press on Monday. “It is the only way to reach the amount of points required to end third.”
Cholo also spoke about striker Mario Mandzukic, who has not been in the greatest form recently and spent a few games out of the team.
“Mandzukic is a crucial player,” said the Argentine. “He has 20 goals this season, but recently he’s been playing with a knock to his ankle. For the past 10 matches it’s been a problem, even before the Leverkusen match.
“He has real humility and class. Yesterday he came to my door and spoke to me with a translator and told me, ‘My ankle is hurting and and I’m not able to give everything that the team needs.’
“‘I’m not in the proper condition that the team needs and I want to recover my ankle in the best possible way.’ It’s a good thing, because if not I would’ve played him tomorrow.
“For me, Mandzukic is a starter, we are very happy with him.”
This could open up the door for Fernando Torres to return to the line-up. Raúl García was set to start the game as well according to AS, but has not been called-up having missed the last two games with an arm injury.
Miranda is available again after serving a two game ban, and will come straight back into the XI alongside Josema Giménez as compatriot Diego Godín gets a rest.
However, Juanfran misses out after picking up his fifth yellow card of the season at Córdoba, so Guilherme Siqueira will start at left-back with Jesús Gámez moving to the right.
Goalkeeper Miguel Ángel Moyá is also on the road to recovery, but not fully fit just yet. Raúl Jiménez remains doubtful with an ankle problem, but unlike Mandzukic he is named in the squad.
Despite having limited options, Simeone confirmed in his press conference that he will be going full strength against la Real, and that he expects a difficult match.
“We hope to give a big performance against a strong opponent. They play with great intensity, have attacking potency and are dangerous from set pieces, so we will have to be at our best to keep the pressure on Valencia and Sevilla.”
David Moyes side have been in good form themselves as of late, and are into the top half and looking upwards after being threatened with relegation when he took over back in November.
“Everyone knows what a good side Atlético are,” the Scotsman told local media. “They’re a team capable of playing different ways, and have a lot of impressive, underrated individuals.
“They are always strong and competitive, which you expect from the reigning champions.”
The Txuriurdin come to the Calderón with a record of just 6 wins from 62 previous visits, although an injury time Carlos Vela goal infamously stopped Atleti from finishing in the top four back in 2012.
Vela will not play tomorrow, suffering a setback following his return from a knee sprain before the international break. Defenders Jon Ansotegi and Alberto de la Bella also miss the trip, banned and injured respectively.
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Oblak, Bernabé
Defenders: Siqueira, Ansaldi, Gámez, Miranda, Giménez, Lucas
Midfielders: Mario Suárez, Tiago, Koke, Griezmann, Arda, Gabi, Saúl, Cani
Forwards: Raúl Jiménez, Torres