Match preview: Atlético vs. Rayo

Atleti again need to do the business and hope Barca drop points

Atleti have already beaten Rayo once at the Calderón this year

Atleti have already beaten Rayo once at the Calderón this year

With only three games left in another exciting La Liga season, it’s a case of who can hold their nerve as Spain’s top three go into action within hours of each other on Saturday afternoon.

Real Madrid are first up, taking on Real Sociedad at San Sebastian at 16:00. A point behind the two at the top, Real Madrid need to avoid the kind of result that sent Barcelona into a tailspin three weeks ago.

Next up is Atlético Madrid, who host Rayo Vallecano at the Vicente Calderón. It’s a second Madrid derby in two weeks for Rayo, who raced to a two goal lead in Vallecas last week only to lose 3-2 against Real Madrid. Rayo are still battling against relegation and will be going all out for the points.

Kick-off for Atleti in Madrid is set for 18:15 CEST.

Following the conclusion there, league leaders Barcelona take to the field against Real Betis in Seville, knowing that a win is crucial should they successfully defend their Liga title from the two Madrid sides. Barcelona will be confident, after they have scored fourteen goals without reply in the league in their last two games against Deportivo and Sporting.

Atlético Madrid are on a good run of their own, with five clean sheets in a row in all competitions, and six wins in a row in the process. However if they are to beat Rayo, they will have to do so without Diego Simeone, who was subsequently banned from the sideline following the extra-ball fiasco against Málaga last weekend.

Controversy aside, Atleti will be without Diego Godín as he recovers from his thigh injury, whilst Carrasco is still out after the knock picked up against Málaga. Tiago is still unavailable despite returning to training with Atleti.

Atlético have already defeated Rayo at the Calderón once this season. A brace from Antoine Griezmann settled the Copa del Rey Round of 16 in Atleti’s favour after an early goal from Ángel Correa.

Saúl Niguez is likely to start for Atleti after his spectacular solo goal against Bayern on Wednesday night. The midfielder, who had a loan spell at Vallecano two seasons ago, says the team are focused on Rayo ahead of the return clash in Munich on Tuesday night.

“The second leg is a very important game, but we also have to think about the next league match,” he told AS.

“We have to win. We are still fighting for the league so we have to give everything in the next game.”

It’s a repeat of last weekend with Real Madrid taking the stage first. Atleti then need to secure another win if they are to put any doubt in the minds of Barcelona ahead of their game at Real Betis.

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    There is no controversy what so ever, the man ordered a ball boy to throw a ball into the pitch, and the rules clearly say that the punishment for that is 3 games .
    And I didn’t like your tweet about that, saying that it’s “a total injustice”, but you didn’t explain how or why !

    Some Atelti fans are referring to the other ball that was thrown into the pitch and came from Malaga’s bench, which is very silly, it was a throw-in, and not a dangerous one, two balls were threw at the same time and probably both came from OUR ball boys, I haven’t seen a single photo for a person from Malaga throwing that ball .

    And even if Javi Gracia himself was the one who threw that ball, so what ?! are they mad because he didn’t get 3-games ban as well ?! that doesn’t change anything, Simeone would still deserve his ban .

  • Ahmad Hossainy

    Some people have been asking for rotation lately, one nuts even asked to rest 9 starters against Granada (he asked us to call him nuts), and I was against that, but now I think some players need some rest, despite the critical situation and despite the great job El Profe has done, they are still humans .

    Grizi in particular is showing signs of fatigue, and he should, he is the one who played more games this season (49) and in minutes, he played 4027, only second to Oblak, and he is also the second player who covered more distance in UCL (the whole season), the first is Gabi, and the third is Koke (among players of all teams, not just Atleti) .
    I don’t think it’s a big deal to keep Grizi on the bench today and give Correa a start, maybe give Gabi a rest too, the man ran 123 km in UCL alone this season .
    I wish we could rest Filipe, but who will take his place ?! Lucas did all right against Granada, but he is not a LB .

    Juanfran – Gimenez – Savic – Filipe
    Thomas – Augusto – Koke – Saul
    Correa – Torres

    I wanted to say Oliver, but right now I will be happy if he made to the bench .

  • Vasile Oncea

    I want Oliver to play. I don’t want him to leave.

  • Randy Ved Jawahir

    I happened to be that nuts guy Lol