After the dramatic late win against Sporting Gijón at the Vicente Calderón, Atlético now face another newcomer at the Benito Villmarin.
The red and whites need the three points to keep the pressure on Real Madrid and Barcelona at the top of the table, after the Catalans ran out 4-0 winners in El Clásico on Saturday.
Kick-off at the Benito Villamarin is set for 20:30 CET.
Before the international break, Atleti beat Sporting Gijón with a last minute winner courtesy of Antoine Griezmann. The Frenchman has been in the news since then, his sister thankfully a survivor of the attacks in Paris that have dominated headlines on the front and back pages.
We’ll do our best to turn our attention back to the football, as newly promoted Betis host Diego Simeone’s men on Sunday evening. Juanfran and Jackson will miss the game due to injury, whereas Lucas and Thomas are left out of the squad.
The last time that Atlético and Betis faced each other competively was in our title winning season of 2013/14. The scoreline for that game ended 0-2 at the Benito Villamarin, with Gabi and Diego Costa scoring for Atlético.
Betis were relegated that season, but returned to La Liga at the first time of asking, pipping Sporting to the second division title inspired by manager Pepe Mel’s return to the club back in December.
Currently there are some off the pitch trouble for some of the players. Both Jordi Figueras and Xavi Torres are suspected of being involved in match fixing related to several games in their relegation season two years ago.
Their star striker Ruben Castro is also charged with domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend, which quite a vocal bunch in the Betis audience had some damn distasteful things to chant about it.
Former Betis president Lopera attempted to take control of the club from Bitton Sports a few months ago, and issue that has still not been resolved. It is perfectly clear who the fans wants to control the club as they’ve organized protests against a Lopera when the whole issue arose.
Despite all of this they are doing considerably well this season, four points from the drop zone and four away from the Europa League spots, a remarkable feat under the circumstances.
With the new sporting director Eduardo Macia, formerly of Fiorentina, Betis brought in many internationally recognisable players during the summer such as Rafael Van Der Vaart, Juan Manuel Vargas, Heiko Westermann as well as fan favorite Joaquin.
Some other players to keep an eye on is free scoring striker Ruben Castro as well as Antonio Adan, rising star Dani Ceballos and ex-Atlético right back Franscisco Molinero.
Betis’ current season has been solid, with plenty of room to improve still. They have played 11 games up until tomorrow’s fixture, winning four, drawing three and losing four.
Mel has named a squad of 18, leaving out Alfred N’Diaye, Juan Vargas, Vincenzo Renenella and Tarek.
In the buildup to the game Simeone has said that Betis will be a tough opponent and that in order to win the players will need to be very focused.
Pepe Mel on the other hand says that in order to defeat Atlético they need to play intelligently, unlike in their last home game against Athletic Bilbao where they lost 3-1. He also says that Atlético works very hard as a group instead of individuals.
“Atleti are a solid unit, they play as a team rather than individuals and have a very strong group, with strength on the counter attack and from set pieces.
“I think we have learned from the Athletic match. We’ve been working hard and will give everything we can, the fans deserve this. Hopefully we can go on and have a comfortable season.”
Atlético match selection
Goalkeepers: Moyá, Oblak
Defenders: Godín, Filipe, Siqueira, Savic, Gámez, Giménez
Midfielders: Tiago, Koke, Óliver, Gabi, Saúl, Carrasco
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, Vietto