With Barcelona set to take on this season’s surprise package Eibar at 16:00 on Sunday afternoon, Atleti could be a massive eleven points behind the league leaders by the time they take on Valencia at the Mestalla.
Kick-off on Sunday is set for 20:30 CET.
With only eleven games to go until the end of this season’s competition, Atlético are running out of opportunities for Barcelona to slip up, and a second league title in three seasons for Diego Simeone looks a distant possibility.
The prospect of a second placed finish ahead of Real Madrid is still on the horizon, and despite their 7-1 victory over Celta on Saturday afternoon, Atlético are in a strong position to pip their neighbours to the number two spot.
Gary Neville’s Valencia have seen an upturn in form in recent weeks, only to see them beat heavily at home to Athletic last weekend. An away win to Málaga midweek has injected some confidence, but Atleti arrive in town after back-to-back wins against Real Madrid and Real Sociedad.
Los Rojiblancos will be looking to avenge last season’s defeat at the Mestalla, where they were 3-0 down inside just 13 minutes.
It’s an unhappy hunting ground though for Atleti, who have only won once at the Mestalla in the last ten years.
Yannick Ferreira Carrasco is eligible for selection again after recovering from his ankle injury. The Belgian has been sorely missed for Atlético in recent weeks. He has already scored against Valencia this season, helping Atleti to a 2-1 win over Los Che at the Vicente Calderón. It’s likely he will start from the bench.
Augusto is suspended for the clash after picking up another booking against Sociedad, and with Tiago still out injured, it’s anybody’s guess as to who will slot into the midfield alongside Gabi.
We could see Kranevitter handed his full-debut, whilst Óliver Torres is waiting on the wings for a return to the starting eleven.
For Valencia, it’s likely we’ll see Siqueira play for the home side. His loan deal from Atlético does not prevent him from playing against his parent-club.
Diego Simeone knows the tough task ahead of Atleti, and didn’t shy away from it in his press conference.
“We know that it is very difficult a team like Barcelona will lose games but we only think about ourselves.”
“We will prepare according to what we have. We have these days to prepare for the game against Valencia, which is obviously a very complicated match.
“We are looking to get stronger for what is left of the championship. What matters in football is to win.”
His counterpart Gary Neville has never faced Atlético Madrid before as either a player or manager, so he’s somewhat of an unknown commodity as he enters the junior months of his fledgling management career.
Atlético squad to face Valencia:
Goalkeepers: Oblak and Moyá
Defenders: Godín, Filipe Luis, Jesús Gámez, Lucas, Juanfran, and Giménez
Midfielders: Koke, Kranevitter, Óliver, Gabi, Saúl, Carrasco, and Thomas
Forwards: Griezmann, Torres, Correa, and Vietto