Regaining the La Liga crown may be a distant possibility for Atlético, but there is still a lot on the line for los Rojiblancos as they take on Real Betis on Saturday afternoon.
Kick-off at the Vicente Calderón is set for 16:00 CEST.
With an international break to soothe the pain of defeat from Atleti’s last match against Sporting, Atleti know that they need to return to winning ways if they are to keep their grip on second place, and record a second finish above Real Madrid in three seasons.
With the focus in Spain on El Clasico, and the clash between Barcelona and Real Madrid, Atleti need to quietly get on with their business and take all three points from the struggling Andalusians.
With Betis six points clear of the relegation places in 13th place, the danger isn’t truly over for Juan Merino’s men, but they will face a troubled Atleti side on Saturday. Los Colchonero’s have been struggling with injury, and several key players are missing for Atleti.
Diego Godín has returned to training, but will still miss the match in Madrid. Giménez will join his compatriot on the sidelines which will see Lucas step in to the Atlético defence.
Also missing in Stefan Savic, who misses out on a place in the squad after failing to recover. Atlético add Samuel Villa and Nacho Monsalve to the squad list to fill the voids left by injury.
With Carrasco not back to full fitness, Thomas may find a place for himself in the starting eleven after impressing so well in his stint earlier this season.
Diego Simeone may also choose to rest Antoine Griezmann, now that the title is looking increasingly unlikely. Atlético of course have a big encounter with Barcelona to look forward to at the Camp Nou on Tuesday evening.
In the first meeting between these two sides in November, a single Koke goal was enough to settle the score in Atlético’s favour.
Atlético fans will hope that being a goal up will not be enough reason for Diego Simeone to shut up shop, and that the Argentinean learned his lesson from the defeat to Sporting a fortnight ago.
Atlético squad to face Real Betis:
Goalkeepers: Oblak and Moyá.
Defenders: Juanfran, Gámez, Lucas, Monsalve, and Filipe
Midfielders: Gabi, Augusto, Saúl, Samuel Villa, Thomas, Koke, and Kranevitter
Forwards: Correa, Vietto, Griezmann, and Fernando Torres